A communication tool I used with Remind101 was Google Voice. This service gives you a number that you can give out to your students and parents so they can send you a text message. You may be thinking… NO WAY! I don’t want my parents and students texting me…. the number doesn’t send messages to your message app on your phone it sends the message to the Google Voice App or you can access it on www.google.com/voice. From there you can reply to a message or listen to a voicemail from a parent or student. This is a great way to get the correct number to contact a parent.
One of the essential skills that teachers need to communicate to their is students is that learning is a lifelong skill and learning continues after the school day ends. Teachers need to be available when their students have questions. I’m not saying be on call 24/7, but teachers need to be there for their students when their students are doing their homework. Don’t feel obligated to reply to every message, but maybe a couple nights a weeks have ‘office hours’ from 7-9pm or something like that. I have the app on my iPhone so I could quickly reply to a student’s question from anywhere. Google Voice is great for students who are afraid to raise their hand in class or approach me personally with a question. For most questions, I didn’t need to know which student is sending me the text and I liked it that way. Teachers need to maintain a professional relationship with their students.
Parents don’t reply to email….. and who wants to get stuck on the phone with a parent who is at their whits end with their 13 year old child. Google Voice makes it easy to communicate with a parent. I had many parents who would text me for clarification on assignments or something their child claims I said in class…. I would include my Google number in the @Remind101 messages I would send my parents if I needed them to reply. Need a chaperone or class supplies… Parent Conferences…
Google Voice does allow you to block numbers if a crazy parent starts abusing the system or if some adolescent thinks they’re funny and starts sending SPAM messages.
One way I would use Google Voice in the classroom was for exit assessments and review for formative assessments. (I used to put a picture of a phone outside my door on days I wanted students to bring their phones to class.)
Here’s how it works:
Give your students a question to answer before they leave. Not all students will be able to reply, but it will give you an idea of how well the students grasped the concept you were teaching that day.
My students loved this! Put the students in groups and make sure that at least one student has a phone to text. Project your Google Voice Account or Use the GV app on your phone. Have each group give their team a name and send it to your GV number so you can make sure everything is working. Ask the class a question and whichever group texts you the answer first gets the points. Sometimes I use the GV phone app so I can give a slower group a fighting chance…. Keeps the group from giving up.
When you sign up for a Google Number, you have the option to select a number and you decide if it will be assigned to real number or not (Your personal number… not recommended). I do not have my Google number assigned to real phone number.
I post this number on my door during schedule pickup and on back to school night. I have never had a parent question their student texting me when they have a question. Many parents tell me they tell their child to text me when they don’t know what to do for their homework.