It’s often a headache for school administrators: A teacher opts to forego the district’s email system and instead gives out his or her personal cell phone number, reasoning that the most effective way to communicate with his or her smartphone-obsessed students is by text. What’s a district to do?
Fortunately, there are apps on the market that convert emails to text messages, allowing educators to communicate effectively with students without being forced to give out their personal phone numbers. For example, Remind allows educators to message one or multiple devices about everything from assignments to field trips and office hours without giving out personal phone numbers–while preserving a record of every message sent. Class Dojo is another app teachers can use to communicate with families, either through one-on-one messages or group messages that share photos and fun moments with families.
While such tools may provide a safer and more effective way for educators and families to communicate, it’s still important for districts to do their due diligence to ensure the tools align with their district’s needs, rules and values. It’s also important for districts to oversee the process for selecting which apps teachers use to communicate with families, have strong acceptable use policies governing the use of district technology, establish procedures for vetting contracts and new technologies and maintain any records in accordance with the district’s retention policies.