Use Google Voice to Keep the Lines of Communication Open with Your Students’ Families

It really does take a village to raise a child.  And home/school communications are a big part of helping keep students on track.  We’ve all got email addresses and school phone numbers so family members can reach us when necessary.

But why not use an amazing bit of free technology to allow your students and their families to text you?

It’s not as crazy as it may sound.  Many of the families at my school don’t have internet access, but they do have a cell phone that can send text messages.

With Google Voice, it’s easy and convenient for both you and your students’ families.  You register for a free Google Voice number.  Once you’ve got it, log in, click on “settings” and then on the “phones” tab.  Click on the circle to “forward calls to” your cell phone number and type in your cell number with the area code.  Then click on the “calls” tab.  Turn on Call Screening (which gives you a  heads up); “display caller’s number” for Incoming Calls; “display your Google Voice number” for Outgoing calls; and turn on the Spam filter.

Now it’s time to check and make certain you’ve done it correctly.  You’ll need to borrow someone else’s cell phone in order to do this.  (I used three other cell phones to check on this since I wanted to be absolutely certain everything worked correctly.  I didn’t want my personal cell number available.)

I sent a text message from my daughter’s cell phone to my Google Voice number.  Within moments, my personal phone signaled I had a text message.  Then I replied to the text message, hit send, and when it arrived on my daughter’s cell phone, the number shown was my Google Voice number!  After checking this with two other cell phones, I was confident enough to give out my Google Voice number as a “text only” number. 

Google Voice Text Messaging has been an amazing addition to Room Nine’s home/school communications.  Parents text me about classroom assignments, school events, student health issues, and even homework!  For those families that have no internet access but do have cell phones with texting (and there are more than you may realize), this has been the best option for communicating with them.

Sometimes, I get out my phone and text my students’ families with concerns and congratulations.  And I have found that students pay a little more attention when they realize their teacher and their families are communicating so easily … sometimes right in front of them!

I highly recommend Google Voice for text messaging with your students and their families, because we’re all in this together!

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