Think of the last planning period you spent racing to type, print, and pass out a letter to families. Or all of the lunches you spent writing individual notes home. Or the hours after school spent calling parents just to leave voicemails?
Did any of it work? Did it keep parents informed and engaged? Did it help your students succeed?
If you’re like most teachers and school leaders, the answer is not really.
That’s why more and more schools are turning to text messaging to communicate with parents and students. In a new Hechinger Report article, Can u fix education w/ txts?, Chris Berdik explains why texting is working in schools.
For one thing, it’s fast. Not only can teachers send messages in seconds, parents can read them instantly, too. No more hunting through crumpled papers at the bottom of a backpack or logging into an online portal at 9:00 at night.
What’s more, Berdik explains that the relative ease of texting results in more communication. Instead of just communicating about behavior and concerns, teachers who text are more likely to share notes of praise, reminders for upcoming assignments, and ideas for things like great independent reading books and educational games to play at home. Research shows that these are the things that boost parent engagement the most.
Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up Research Project showed that parents want quick, convenient methods of communication with timely information sent directly to them texts and email, as opposed to social media, websites, and printed letters.
Still, the idea of texting with students and parents makes many educators uncomfortable. Some states and districts have even taken steps to ban communication through social media and teachers’ personal devices.
That’s why technology solutions like IO Education’s SMS text messenger are working in so many schools. Teachers and administrators login to the secure Messenger interface to create, send, and receive messages. Parents and/or students then read and respond to messages directly through SMS.
"Instead of having to login, it’s instantaneous. We are constantly communicating via text message. It has far surpassed other forms of communication."
- Karla Chiluza, Principal,
The Global Learning Collaborative
M403 - New York City Schools
Teachers can also set up event-triggered auto-notifications. If a student is marked absent, for example, his parents will receive an automatic update in real-time. Messenger also includes full 2-way language translation for over 50 languages, making communication easier and more inclusive.
According to a study conducted by a University of California professor and Harvard University doctoral student, “Texting allowed students, parents, and teachers to support each other as well as ‘bond,’ in ways crucial for solidifying students’ commitment to both teachers and school. Students made it clear that the more they felt teachers cared about them and their success, the more they wanted to succeed in school – and that texting helped solidify this confidence.”
So the next time you sit down to write that newsletter, think about whether not it will really help your students succeed.