Arizona Teacher Quits Over Student PHONE Addiction A Cry for Classroom Attention (1)

Arizona Teacher Quits Over Student PHONE Addiction: A Cry for Classroom Attention

A high school biology teacher in Arizona quit his job last week because he got tired of his students using their phones all the time in class.

Mitchell Rutherford, a teacher at Sahuaro High School, told an early-morning Tucson NBC station that he has tried everything he can to help his students stop being “addicted” to their phones but is now giving up.

“I have been struggling with mental health this year mostly because of what I identified as basically phone addiction with the students,” Rutherford told the news. The 35-year-old public school teacher quit her job last Thursday, after 11 years of service. Rutherford said that over the last few years, he has used a variety of lesson plans to help his kids understand how bad it is to use their phones all the time.

“Here’s extra credit, let’s check your screen time, let’s create habits, let’s do a unit on sleep and why sleep is important and how to reduce your phone usage for a bedtime routine, and we talked about it every day and created a basket called ‘phone jail,’” he said, citing everything he’s tried to do.

Rutherford said that excessive phone use is like being addicted to drugs and that it’s even worse than being addicted to drugs or sugar.

“Opioids, obviously a huge problem, cocaine, heroin, all of those drugs, alcohol, it’s all a big problem, but like sugar even greater than that and then phones even greater than that,” he added. The teacher told the Wall Street Journal in a separate interview that she saw this problem get worse during the COVID-19 pandemic and that “something shifted” in the kids.

A lot of research done in the last few years has shown that pandemic learning loss has hurt the education, skills, and output of K–12 students across the country. “I was beginning to think I was the problem,” Rutherford told the news source as the problem got worse. He also said that some kids would tell him straight out that they didn’t care about school.

He doesn’t blame the kids all the time, though. He told a local news source that society needs to help kids develop better habits.

“As a society, we need to prioritize educating our youth and protecting our youth and allowing their brains and social skills and happiness to develop naturally, without their phone,” she said.

According to WSJ, the teacher is ready to start a new job. He might work at an online college prep school or go to a vocational program. He is still afraid that by making this choice, he might be “abandoning” his children.

“Some part of me feels like I’m leaving these kids,” he said. “I always tell them to do hard things, and now I’m leaving?” I chose to try something else, though, that doesn’t drain and consume me fully.

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