A song parody about confiscating cellphones in class

I confiscated a student’s phone today (grade 9), and she told me I was rude. So I started singing, “Why you gotta be so rude?” and I morphed the chorus into something about her phone. (I enjoy making up song parodies on the spot.) I don’t have a decent singing voice, generally speaking, so the kids advised me to keep my day job. But that song and the situation has been on my mind all day. Here, then, is my parody of “Rude” for your enjoyment!

Original lyrics by Magic! Adapted by me just for fun:

On Monday morning crawled out of bed and got ready for school,
Got in my car and bought a java, all to teach you.
Learning goals on the board and lesson planned;
I ask you a question . . .
I know that you’re a good student if given a chance!

Would you put your phone down for the rest of our class? Say yes, say yes,
‘Cause you need to know.
You say you’re multitasking but you need to pass.
Tough luck, Padawan, but the answer is no!

Why you gotta be so rude?
Don’t you know I’m human, too?
Why you gotta be so rude?
I’m going to take your phone anyway.
Take your phone . . .
Get it back when class ends.
Take your phone . . .
Should be paying attention.
Take your phone . . .
End of discussion.

Why you gotta be so rude?

I hate to do this, you leave no choice;
Can’t give instructions!
Gaming or watching videos
Is a distraction.
I need your attention
To explain these new skills and concepts.
Make sure all your work gets done.
Learn cellphone etiquette!

Would you put your phone down for the rest of our class? Say yes, say yes, 
‘Cause you need to know.
Get off Instagram, kid, you need to pass.
Tough luck, young one, ’cause I’m taking your phone!

Why you gotta be so rude?
Don’t you know I’m human, too.
Why you gotta be so rude?
I’m going to take your phone anyway
Take your phone . . .
Get it back when class ends.
Take your phone . . .
Should be paying attention.
Take your phone . . .
End of discussion.

Why you gotta be so rude?

Would you put your phone down for the rest of our class? Say yes, say yes,
‘Cause you need to know.
Stop SnapChatting, I want to help you to pass;
Tough luck, young one, ’cause you’re losing your phone!

Why you gotta be so rude?
Don’t you know I’m human too
Why you gotta be so rude
I’m going to take your phone anyway.
Take your phone . . .
Get it back when class ends.
Take your phone . . .
Should be paying attention.
Take your phone . . .
End of discussion.

Why you gotta be so rude?
Why you gotta be so rude?
Why you gotta be so rude?

———————–

It’s not always easy figuring out how to show students the right ways to behave in a high school classroom. Certainly cellphones on their persons add another dimension to the challenge. I don’t mind if they have them, and I’ve learned to work with devices, integrating them into my lessons, but the students who can’t keep them out of their hands for longer than five minutes — or who have difficulty in just turning them over so the texts can’t be read immediately, or there’s no temptation to look at Facebook — they’re a huge source of concern. I keep looking for ways to teach cellphone etiquette, but that only works if the individual is willing to work with me in changing a bad habit. And that requires the individual to put the phone down and give me attention.

Maybe we need interventions for cellphone addiction? I’m only partially kidding . . . I ought to try a restorative justice circle, sans cellphones, to talk about their impact on the classroom and what good and bad manners looks like. To some degree, it’s also a maturity issue. For a few students, using cellphones to rebel a little bit is about social status and reputation. For example, what if a very smart girl doesn’t want others to think she’s a brain, so she’s a little silly with her phone to de-emphasize her intelligence? What if an interested boy with a plan for the future doesn’t want to be laughed at, so he sticks to sharing videos and funny snap chats to throw his friends off the scent? I think there is more than one reason why teenagers have a hard time letting go of their cellphones — it has to do with feeling connected, feeling rebellious, establishing rep and saving face. The devices are security blankets, of a sort, and shields, and lifelines. And I’m not afraid to admit that if they’d been around when I was a teenager, I would have done the same out of shyness. After all, I used books, magazines, and my Gameboy, for very much the same purposes.

I used to try keeping cellphones out of my classroom completely, but it seemed more logical to me to find ways to include them. This semester, I’ve been making up online quizzes that kids can complete on their devices, assigning blog posts (same thing), and developed lessons in photographic composition that only need the use of a simple camera, such as those in most smartphones. The challenge is in helping the students to understand when to listen by putting the phones away, or at least down. I’ve done a lesson on active listening techniques and posted key points in my classroom. Provided frequent and daily reminders on what active listening looks like. I seem to be at the phase where, for some, confiscation is the tactic that will prove most effective in changing their focus, but it’s like that old saying about trying to force a horse to drink.

So instead of focusing on angst and frustration, I make up songs in the classroom that lighten the mood a little and deflect a power struggle. The next stage is to phone homes and meet with parents, something I really dread.

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