The classrooms at my school are equipped with an ancient, mostly working phone system that allows us to call other classrooms and offices on our floor–but we hardly ever use it. Instead, most teachers and administrators keep their cell phones on them throughout the day and text whenever necessary. It’s much less disruptive than having to pick up a phone in the corner of the room, look up a room code, dial, and wait for someone to pick up, then talk while the entire class listens. Texting is also more reliable because most staff and administrators do not stay in their rooms waiting by the phones all day. Finally, you can send a single text message to multiple people at one time and receive an answer from any or all of the recipients.
Every day at work, I wear a small, black fanny pack, which holds white-board markers, sharpies, post-it notes, keys, and of course, my cell.
Here are a few examples of texts I sent or received last week during my school day (pseudonyms will be used for students’ names):
Me to Ms. P, Dean of Discipline at 9:31 am: Adam cursed multiple times. I told him he’d have detention for it. He walked out the room.
Ms. P at 9:33: ok
[Adam returned to my room about 10 minutes later with an apology note]
Ms. P to all 8th grade teachers at 10:18: Hey guys! Considering suspending Steve for throwing a book. Doesn’t seem like he gets in much trouble. I can give him a few detentions instead. Thoughts?
Ms. R at 10:30: I think we should give a day suspension–same as we’d give another student.
Ms. P at 1:46: Can u please send Kris to me? Thanks
Me at 1:50: I don’t have him, I think Ms. S does.
Me to Ms. O, Principal at 2:41: Where is the department meeting?
Ms. O at 2:41: my office.
Ms. S to me at 1:50: Kahlia with you? Tell her that her Dad is coming for ptc (parent teacher conference) be at my room 3:30.
Ms. S to me 1:51: and can u print the progress reports? Sry to bug u.
Me at 1:51: Yes!!!
Ms. S at 3:06: Kahlia’s father here. Tell her to go to office.
Me at 3:33: I have the other 3 progress reports but am stuck at the office in a meeting. Send someone to get them?
[Ms. S comes by for the reports a few minutes later]
Ms. S at 3:07 next day: Alicia came in here to tell ppl that Kahlia told Steve he looks like a monkey’s “$$”
Me at 3:08: Thanks I’ll be speaking to her.
During a double period ELA practice standardized test on Friday…
Me to Ms. D and Ms. S at 10:23: are they finished?
Ms. D at 10:24: Ms. H (AP) said I could take them out early
Me at 10:24: 803 is ready to go. When r u going?
Ms. D at 10:24: now
Ms. S at 10:26: Yess!!!! We going now. putting up chairs! Nice
Ms. F, guidance counselor, who was administering read aloud questions to Special ed. student with testing modifications at 10:57:u outside?
Me at 10:57: yes!
Ms. F at 11:02: Just dropped Shawn at bball court
Me at 11:02: thanks
My point in exposing the inner workings of a team of texters (hope u enjoyed!!) is to highlight the efficiency of our communication, especially around logistics. Effectively managing large numbers of students with different needs involves making many quick decisions. It’s very helpful to be able to coordinate with and get input from the team in a way that is sensitive to the immediacy of the situation. It also enables us teachers to make many practical decisions on our own without relying on an administrator to manage all the details.
My only question is when will the DOE catch up to the power of wireless communications for teachers? When will we stop having to pay for work-related texts? Are there additional ways we could be using wireless technology to do our jobs better and more efficiently?
[image credit: littleenoch.blogspot.com/ 2008/06/texting.html]