Phone Rule Gets Teacher Fired

A San Francisco Bay Area yoga teacher is fired after asking her students to turn off their phones in class.

All sorts of thoughts come up during yoga class: What should I have for dinner? How long are we going to hold this pose? I wonder if anyone commented on the picture I posted to Facebook before class? In a world of smart phones, social networking, and text messages sometimes it’s just too much to bear. It won’t hurt anything if you take just a little peek at your phone to satisfy some burning curiosity, will it? We’ve all seen it, and most of us have even been guilty of it ourselves.


Earlier this week, news surfaced that Bay Area yoga teacher Alice Van Ness was fired when she insisted that students turn their cell phones off during her class at Facebook’s Menlo Park campus. When one of her students got her phone out in the middle of class, Van Ness gave her a disapproving look.

She was fired when the student complained to the fitness contractor she worked for, Plus One Health Management. She also lost her gig teaching at Cisco.

“I understand the world still happens and there might be emergencies,” Van Ness told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But it’s like, can we have some sort of boundary, a line of what we’re not going to accept bringing into this class?”

Checking your smart phone in class is definitely a yoga etiquette no-no that’s right up there with distracting classmates by coming in late or leaving early—and it’s becoming more and more common.

Tell the truth: Have you ever gotten out your phone in the middle of class? Is it the responsibility of the teacher to squelch this type of disruption? Or should teachers allow their students to decide for themselves when and how much to disconnect from technology during class?