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Listening to my students using Google Voice

How often and for how long do you truly listen to your students?

I don’t mean listening to an answer they give or a comment they make in class. I mean listening more deeply about who they are: their interests, their goals, their problems, their needs as a student.

With more than a hundred students and daily public school chaos, it’s nearly impossible to find the time and peace to sit down and listen to a student without an immediate interruption.

Before this year, I “listened” to my students mostly through letters. When I had the time and energy, I even wrote personal letters back to each of my students, a herculean task. Although this was effective, it was impossible to do more than once a quarter.

That’s why this year I’m trying something new: The Weekly Voicemail Assignment.

On Thursday nights, students call me on my Google Voice number (set to Do Not Disturb!”) and answer some prompts. On my own time, I listen to each message and quickly respond with a quick personal text.

Even though each voicemail averages only one minute (much faster than reading and responding), I’m finding that the weekly assignment is helping me build positive relationships with my students. They know that I’m listening. They get to talk to me without worrying about what others might say. It’s like we’re having a private meeting — except we’re not in the same room.

I’m looking forward to tracking these voicemails (they’re all archived!) and looking at them more closely over the year. 

Please share your brilliant insights!