Outdated Calling Methods Keep Your Teachers from Reaching Out
During my years as a high school teacher, I reasoned that students at that age should take responsibility for their own education. That is to say, independent of their parents. Like many things over the years, my ideas have evolved. While I still think independence should be a growth goal for high school students, I was wrong to think that parental engagement wasn't a central part of the process of reaching my students. When I'm honest with myself looking back, a lack of robust connection with parents was truly more about the struggle of the process. In those days, we didn’t have cell phones or even phones in the classroom. We had the teacher’s lounge phone.
So, to engage with a parent about a student was this process of locating the phone number, going to the lounge before school, during lunch, my planning period, or after school to have a not-even private conversation with a parent about their child. And that was if the number was correct or I was able to even reach them.
The result of this arcane process was a very low success rate...which, looking back, allowed me to adopt the stance that it was up to my students to take care of their own work and that their parents couldn't save them. Although maintaining this perspective seemed to work, I can’t help but wonder now as my own children reach that age, how many students slipped by because, for whatever reason, I was not engaged with parents at all.
It’s not like I never talked to parents. There were several times that I was able to make contact and in almost every case, it made a huge difference not only in the student’s approach to class, but probably more important, it enhanced my own understanding of that student's individual needs. The bottom line: while helpful, the task of communicating regularly with parents was too arduous to be reliable for the time available to teachers. Even when the benefits of communication were clear.
[See Also: Three Types of Communication Your District Should be Using for Parent Engagement]
Today, as was the case then, few teachers of any age group will argue that regular communication with parents is a waste of time. In fact, most would agree that greater parental engagement is key to increasing student achievement. The challenge then, is how do we make that process better-- easier, for all involved?
I am so excited about the work my company is doing today to remove the barriers standing between teachers and parents that continue to exist. Even in the age of ubiquitous communication platforms, such as email, text, and cell phones, there exists a great need to connect these dots. By providing a unified communications interface, SchoolStatus will give teachers and parents the opportunity to use the form of communication that suits each best, at the moment it’s best for them with real up-to-date student data at their fingertips. The real power of this new tool is that it translates the communication platform between the teacher and parent, so that engagement continues seamlessly regardless of the preferred method of each educator.
We recently released SchooolStatus Voice as the first step in creating better communication. Customer response has been over the moon. Teachers immediately started making calls directly through our interface or patched to their cell. By masking the incoming phone numbers, teachers are free to make these calls via the medium most convenient to them. Our system automatically logs the time, length, the person called and the person calling. These calls can even be recorded for later playback. This tool is stupid easy to use. No more lounge phone from the 80’s with worn-out numbers. No more filling out call log sheets. No more anything to keep teachers from reaching out
As we continue to roll out features like this, I sometimes stop and think about how much more effective I could have been as a teacher. And I suppose that’s really the whole idea.
Whatever we are working on, whatever the next project, we should be answering the most important question: What can we do to make the roles of educators and parents easier so that students can win?
SchoolStatus is the district-wide communication tool that integrates key student data in order to increase communication among educators, district administrators, and student families. The company’s solution aggregates individual student data, such as state assessments, attendance, and grades in an easy-to-visualize format and offers the option to communicate with student families via call, text, or email. Through SchoolStatus, millions of communications have occurred on the classroom, campus, and district level. For more information about SchoolStatus, visit www.schoolstatus.com.