Confessions of Classroom Texters

Confessions of Classroom Texters

by Douglas Brooks   

Just how clueless are you? It’s worse than you think.

Cell phones, once billed as a “necessity for student emergencies,” have now evolved into a major player in the game of “cat and mouse” between many students and their classroom teachers. I asked my university students to share school and classroom texting strategies crafted to fool some clueless educators.

I will never look at a hooded sweatshirt the same way again.

Just How Clueless?

Students know which teachers notice or care if they text in class. They know who is clueless. With some teachers you can text right under their noses. Other teachers force you to resort to more subtle strategies.
–Beth Hannah

Use a Flat Phone

Serious texters don’t have flip phones. They have flat phones. I did the usual “searching in my bag for a pen” routine mostly. Sometimes I would cross my legs and rest my phone on the lower leg, hidden from view from my teachers with the other leg. Then I would text with just one hand so it looked like I was just resting my hand in my lap.
–Megan Burch

Pen Lights That Signal a New Text

There are actually some pens that will light up when the student’s cell phone receives a signal (text, call, e-mail). The students then know that they have a text, and they can easily pull their phone out behind their textbook, in their desk, or go to the bathroom so they can reply to the text message. Students use these pens to not risk getting caught with their cell phones out just checking if they have a text.
–Martha Freeman

Ring Tones That Old Teachers Can’t Hear

Students can and have set their text and/or ring tone to a pitch that can’t be heard by older teachers. The tone can be sent as easily as a picture or a text through the phone. Students in class know when their phones go off or friend’s phones go off by the noise, but the teacher is oblivious. My younger siblings who were in middle school and high school at the time told me about this and tested it on me. I was 20 and I could still hear it, but our parents and Aunts and Uncles didn’t hear a thing.
–Abbey Holian

Total Silent or Vibrate

A must for serious texters is to have the phone on total silent or vibrate. This setting combined with a large sweatshirt was a good system. The student can still see their phone light up without the teacher seeing or hearing the phone. –Kim Steger

Clothing and Accessories

I keep my phone in the front pocket of my hooded sweatshirt. It is accessible. It looks like my hands are in my front pocket, but I’m actually texting. I can also stick the screen part of my phone out of the pocket without it being obvious.
–Jesse King

In high school, sweatshirts were part of our uniform. We would ball the sweatshirts up in our laps and tuck our phones into the folds. The sweatshirt blocked the teachers view from the front of the classrooms and we didn’t have to keep reaching into our bags. It looked like we were just resting our hands in our lap. If the teacher walked by it looked like your sweatshirt was just folded on your lap.
–Cassandra Hill

Some of my guy friends would text inside of their baseball hats on the table. Honestly, I went to a school where we had computers, and we would e-mail constantly and instant message through g-mail. In my mind, this is going to start replacing texting during school because so many students have their laptops at school.
–Martha Freeman

I found that you can text pretty easily under a table while in class. Girls can text while they act like they are looking for something in their purse/bag. They’ve memorized the buttons on their phone. Good luck catching that!
–Tyler Bruns


My sister is 16 and an obsessive texter. Her phone rarely leaves her hand. She has the numbers and the letters on each button/key memorized so she can be completely looking at someone and still text her friends without even looking at what she is typing. She knows each button that well.  She uses her phone during study hall or lunch.  –Danielle Davis

Classroom Location and Seating

Our teacher sat on the right side of our room and we sat close to the left side. The student had his cell phone conveniently located in his left pocket. When our teacher wasn’t looking, he would pull his phone out.  Our teacher was never completely aware of what was going on. He almost always read a book when we were taking our tests, so it was easy to “text-cheat.”
–Kari Roberta


I found that when students went to their lockers in between class, they were texting, pretending they were looking in their lockers. There were also a couple instances when I found girls talking on their phones in the bathroom. Cell phones were a big battle, but honestly I think it was just because there was little disciplinary action that followed when students were caught on them.
–Abigail Thomas

Eye Contact With the Teacher

I have friends who can maintain direct eye contact with a teacher and  conduct a text conversation the whole time.  –Jenna Schone
The Opposite Leg

I sometimes hold my phone next to my leg and make sure the teacher is on the opposite side of me than my phone. This way it looks like my hand is just resting at my side but I’m actually texting. This is more risky than the hooded sweatshirt strategy but it still works. The hardest part of any of this is keeping your eyes up so it isn’t obvious that you are texting.
–Jesse King

Using Thumbs

Students hide their phones behind a book and pretend they are reading.  They hold the book and text with their thumbs. In middle school, students could hide it with the desk if they have the ones with the cubby hole in them or with a flip top.
–Monica Head

Texting During Tests

I have actually observed a student texting during a quiz and having someone look up the answers and texting them back.  The teacher sat at her desk during every test.
–Kari Kattler

Use the Book

When reading in a text book, students simply put the book in front of the phone and text away.
–Brian Homan

The Whole Package

My sister will hide her phone in the pocket of her hoodie. Since she has the keys memorized she is able to just keep her hand in her pocket and type out the text. She waits for the teacher to turn to the board to write something before she looks at any messages she has received.
–Greg Croskey


“Doublethink” is Alive and Well

“Doublethink” is alive and well

By Jane Watson

In 1948, George Orwell wrote 1984. “Big Brother is Watching You” was born. So was “doublethink,” the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously and accepting both of them. TVs watch YOU. Language is paradoxical. Less is more. War is Peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

The organization Stand For Children endorses gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna and Charter Schools. Who doesn’t want to Stand For Children? Who wants Children Left Behind? Who doesn’t want Students First?

The fallacies and failures of NCLB (No Child Left Behind – aka No CORPORATION Left Behind) are well documented. ‘Nuff said.

The CEO of Stand For Children is Geoffrey Canada, a well financed man who opened Harlem’s Children’s Zone, a school which was able to provide many benefits to students who otherwise would have been left to the resources of public schools. Canada was able to spend $14,000 per student to help mitigate the effects of poverty. [Wish public schools could do that!]

When students did not get acceptable test scores, Canada kicked an entire class out of school to maintain Harlem Children Zone’s high test scores. Presumably, these students went to public schools, which don’t turn away anybody – kind of like the Statue of Liberty.

Charter schools take money from public education. They do not do better than public schools.
Most national research shows that on average public schools perform as well as charter schools or better.

Michelle Rhee heads Students First. She was chancellor of DC public schools, (2007 – 2010) which had low test scores. When she was chancellor, test scores rose. Ms. Rhee’s reputation rests on those test scores, which soared while she was chancellor. Last March, USA Today published the results ( of a yearlong investigation of the Washington schools that found a high rate of erasures on tests as well as suspiciously large gains at 41 schools — one-third of the elementary and middle schools in the district. Michelle Rhee is now under investigation for fixing test scores. Michelle Rhee taught third grade for one year, but couldn’t control her class, said the stress gave her hives, and taped children’s mouths to keep them quiet. Rhee’s first year test scores showed a precipitous drop in her class: Average math percentile dropped from 64% to 17%. Average reading percentile dropped from 37% to 21%

In straight talk, Students First does not put students first. Stand For Children does not stand for children. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) leaves children behind.

Where does one get the truth? Talk to teachers. They’re the ones on the front line. They know students are more than test scores. They know children are being robbed of music, art, and many other things by the narrowing of the curriculum as a result of excessive testing.

Go to Parents Across America website. Sign up for their newsletter.

Go to the Save Our schools website. Help them keep the “public” in public ed. Attend their webinars and tweets with educational professionals. (499)


Charter Schools

Charters vs. public schools: Behind the numbers


Gerald Coles: KIPP Schools: Power Over Evidence