We all know that the best way to communicate with students is by texting them. After all, teenagers don’t email, and they’re definitely not going to answer the phone or go on the computer to check a teacher’s class website.
But is there a line? When does texting become too much or too close?
This year, I’ve heard a mild backlash from some parents, who say that teachers have become too lax with their texting habits. One Oakland parent told me, “I just don’t think it’s proper for my daughter to get so many texts from her male teacher. They’re non-stop.”
Last year, I was a huge proponent of texting. For example, my students texted me their homework. I reminded them of their assignments. I cheerleaded and cajoled.
And now, I must say, I’m having second thoughts. Here is my current thinking:
1. Texting should be infrequent and for important reasons.
Too many texts can make the teacher come across as a creeper or as too much of a friend. It might be confusing to students. Texts for informational purposes only (e.g., reminders to turn in field trip forms) do not encourage students to be accountable. The best texts, I think, are for individual students to send a message of care or concern or congratulation.
2. Parents need to know and sign off on the communication.
My advisees’ parents always appreciated my texts and thanked me for my involvement in their child’s life. But that’s because they knew me, trusted me, and understood how I worked. An essential step for teachers is to make clear in your syllabus your methods of communication.
What do you think? How about participating in the first-ever Iserotope poll? (Beware: This fancy poll syncs up with Facebook and Twitter, but you can also vote anonymously.)
Let’s see how this poll turns out. Also, share your thoughts in the comments. What should teachers know and think about when texting their students?