Should You Give Students Your Phone Number?
We asked experienced, National Board Certified Teachers and found they don't agree. So you'll have to decide for yourself! But we hope their comments help you think about it
I've started texting a number of my students this year with reminders, classroom-related questions, even grades, and it's really useful. I get a lot more response and it's helped build channels of communication with a few students I might not have connected with as easily otherwise.
I am the teacher they hear from on their phones, and we know how all-important those phones have become.
When I text, obviously students end up with my number and they do text back, but I haven't had any problems. Students seem respectful of my time and rarely initiate the text conversations themselves. It's fairly easy to identify who is calling or texting, and I'm sure teens are aware of this fact. Besides, kids need the opportunity to develop good cell phone etiquette—when to text, how to respond appropriately, not to use phones for pranks, how to be polite, etc.
Cell phone use and texting have become a basic communication tool of our time. It's time to embrace this technology and set standards for its use.
Jen Morrison, High school English teacher, Prosperity, South Carolina
Our professional email addresses are published in the students' agenda books and posted in the grade book accessible by students and parents online. I wouldn't give out my cell phone number, though, for several reasons:
First, because I need a life, too (after the 12–14 hours I spend in school every day, I would like to hold onto my weekends). Even doctors are not available around the clock. Why should teachers' privacy be invaded? There are no emergencies in education that cannot wait 24 or 48 hours.
Second, because it would be much more time-consuming.
Third, I find there is a better tone in written communication, especially between teacher and parents: exchanging emails allows time to cool down and present a documented response instead of an emotional one.
Maria Boichin, Middle school French immersion teacher, Gaithersburg, Maryland
I will not give out my personal cell phone number to my employer and several of my relatives, much less my students. I would only share a cell phone number with students if I had a business cell phone dedicated for contacts related to school business.
Renee Moore , Instructor of English, Mississippi Delta Community College Moorhead, Mississippi, and former high school English teacher
I give my students my cell phone number. I also give parents my cell phone number. I do screen my calls and I establish time limits (I don't take calls after 9 p.m. because I go to bed early—I am a teacher after all!)
If I really want parents to be part of my teaching team, then I need to be as available to them as I am to my colleagues.
And my students need to feel that they can call me when they have questions about their homework and projects. Using my cell phone also means I have a record of my contacts with parents and students. I have been giving out my home phone (which is now my cell phone) for 13 years. So far, my experience has been all positive.
Michelle Wise Capen, Elementary school curriculum coach and lead teacher - Lenoir, North Carolina
I don't give my personal phone number out to my elementary school students, but I do give my phone number out to parents with whom I am in ongoing contact regarding after-school events, homework help, etc.
Of course, with the common use of caller ID, other families and students get my phone number when I call them. In my experience, it has only been positive for a parent or students to call and ask for clarity on the homework or about a school activity.
It also allows us to build trust between the home and school environments within the first several months of school.
Once students know that you and their parents have each other's phone numbers, discipline problems are very minor!
I even have several students from my first few years of teaching who call once in a blue moon to fill me in on how they are doing in school.
Overall it has been a positive experience for me and has worked out well, especially for increasing parent involvement.
Brenda Martinez, Elementary school teacher Milwaukee, Wisconsin
When I took my class on a field trip last year, I made them all punch my cell number into their phones just in case someone got separated from the group.
Since then, two of those students have called me.
One call was to let me know a student was going to miss the PSAT (a class requirement) and one was to ask a question about registering for the SAT.
The second question should have been asked in class, but I was not overly annoyed.
I absolutely do not accept text messages from students. Recently, someone in our district was asked to resign because the person was texting with students during the school day.
To me (an old person), that type of "anytime" communication implies a more intimate, less professional relationship than is proper with students. There is a time and place for everything, and the time and place for teacher-student communication is not when I'm out with my family.
However, I do give parents my home number if we are having a difficult time connecting during school hours.
Kim McClung, High school English teacher - Kent, Washington