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As I coach and mentor child care providers/educators, I see a recent and all too common problem which is use of cellphones by staff/teachers who are working directly with children. Teachers/educators often have an attitude that they "need" their cell phones with them at all times yet as they text and use facebook, children are being ignored or partially attended to. I am a huge advocate for not allowing cell phone use while directly supervising children. Cell phones belong in their coat or bags or they should be OFF. There are phones in the center for hailing 911 and personal phone calls, including in coming calls, can be conducted on breaks. (Remember the days when we didn't have cell phones? We'd get calls from our families/children/spouses on breaks or after work!) I do not think there is ever going to be a place for "partial attention" when it comes to attention and supervision to children.
There is a difference between gazing out the window at the world going on around you - seeing clouds drift by, watching the wind blow the leaves on the trees, a squirrel scurrying about on the limbs... how could anyone possibly conclude that continuous partial attention on the computer would be helpful?
Here are two quotes that say it better than I could:
"Obstacles are those frightful things you can see when you take your eyes off your goal." (Henry Ford) And another.... "I don't care how much power, brilliance, or energy you have, if you don't harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there, you're never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants."
Partial attention = not really being present. Especially for ECE being present is on of the keys to success in the field.