Contact is key. Our constituencies want us to be accessible. However, 24/7 access isn’t always possible, nor should it be. Chris Casal, the technology teacher & tech coordinator at PS 10 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, uses his Google Voice number on a daily basis to keep the parent-teacher line of communication open & accessible as well as a point of contact available to all members of the PS 10 community.
Google Voice (GVoice) is a free service through Google. If you are a Google Apps school or just have a GMail account, you can get a GVoice phone number by visiting https://www.google.com/voice/?setup=1#setup. If you don’t have a GMail account you can create one for free at www.gmail.com.
Here’s how it works. Google Voice lets you select a standard phone number to tie to your email account. You can have that GVoice number call multiple phones, or none. In addition, the calls & voicemails can be forwarded to your GMail inbox, an app on your smartphone or tablet, and you can reply via those methods too. GVoice takes the actual phone out of the equation and makes the concept of the phone number accessible across all modern technology platforms.
How can this be useful in connecting and coordinating with parents?
- Let Google Voice be your personal secretary, transcribing your messages, allowing you to skip messages from callers you don't want to hear from, and inviting you to eavesdrop as a message is being left for you.
- Record yourself! Just leave yourself a Google voicemail to capture a recording with important information for parents. That message can be emailed or texted to parents.
- Have two cell phones? A personal and work-issued? Don’t want to carry both? Set up GVoice as your “work” phone and install the GVoice app on your “personal” phone. You can call from the app and the person you dial sees your call as coming from the “work” number.
- Easily share messages with your school administrator. Rather than explaining to your principal details about a message a concerned parent left, Google Voice lets you forward the audio message and transcript via email. Nothing is lost in translation.
- Google Voice enables you to place a widget on any online space that you can share with others. There's no need to give out your phone number. They simply click the widget enter their number and are connected either to your phone or voicemail, depending on how you set up your preferences.
If you’re looking for a way to stay connected and provide parents with a sense of unfettered access without your phone ringing off the hook, Google Voice may be just what you’re looking for. It is a free, simple way to offer a single point of contact you can access in various ways, often replying more quickly since you are not reliant on a single voicemail box or physical handset.
For more information visit Chris Casal’s Google Voice tutorial at https://www.dropbox.com/s/ejowvf2e50ojb7x/GoogleVoice_081612.pdf
Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.
Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.