Should teachers give their cell numbers to parents?

One of my favorite things to do on the blog is to pose questions about various issues in education, including controversial topics, and read the viewpoints of teachers from across the world.

Over the years, we’ve talked about whether teachers should complete school work during holidays, use collective punishment, and sell the materials they create. We’ve discussed when does “boring” mean “unnecessary” within the context of curriculum and whether schools should buy technology that teachers don’t want. We’ve also debated whether principals should honor parent requests for specific teachers and if the toughest kids should be assigned to the best teachers.

Take the one question survey and share your opinion, plus see how other educators voted.

Today I’d like to see what your thoughts are on giving out your mobile phone number to your students’ parents. To make it easier and faster for more people to participate, I created a multiple choice survey, but I’m not collecting this data for any purpose other than discussion on the blog.

Take the one question survey below and see how other educators voted. Then leave your comments below if you’d like to explain your opinion. Thanks for participating!

 

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Angela is a National Board Certified Teacher with 11 years of classroom experience and 7 years experience as an instructional coach. As founder of Due Season Press and Educational Services, she has created printable curriculum resources, 4 books, 3 online courses, the Truth for Teachers podcast, and The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. Subscribe via email to get her best content sent to your inbox!

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Miss Trayers May 5, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I was against it for a long time after a bad experience-that was before texting though. Just now started to give it out again. I do put limits on it, especially because they will call or text during the school day and I am not one of those teachers who has their phone out all the time-so I might not see that Johnny wasn’t supposed to ride the bus, etc. I really haven’t had anyone actually use it these past 2 years besides the occassional text asking if they are supposed to wear their uniforms for pictures or something like that. So I’ll continue to do it.

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2 LindaThen May 5, 2014 at 8:17 pm

I’ve worked in private schools for 20 years, and our phone numbers have always been given out in the annual membership phone book. We’ve never had the choice to opt out.
Generally, I’ve found that parents haven’t called too often, although sometimes it happens late in the evening or on Sunday. There are times I just let the answering machine get it.
In later years we’ve had email, and I’ve found that to be helpful. I don’t check it during the day, so if it’s an urgent issue they have to go through the school office. I can also choose when to answer.

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3 Ryan M May 5, 2014 at 11:40 pm

Agreed. In the end, it is our decision to respond or not.

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4 Daisy May 5, 2014 at 8:52 pm

I’ve been teaching for 20 years and have never wanted my home (or now cell) phone available for parents. I give 100% of myself to school during the day. I want my time at home to be for myself and family as much as possible. I do work at home because there is always something that needs to be finished, graded, etc., but I just don’t feel the need to have my time spent on the phone with parents at home.

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5 Tom Perran May 5, 2014 at 9:46 pm

I think it depends on a number of variables including whether or not it’s the only phone you have. I still have a land line so my cell phone is off unless I want to be available. The population and parents with whom you work might also make a difference. Some parents abuse the privilege. Personally, I find it very helpful to be able to text my students’ parents and receive texts from them. Just like anyone else, texting is sometimes the best way to keep in touch. I’ve even texted a parent during school to address a situation that was occurring. It was great to deal with it in real time!

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6 Ryan M May 5, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Remind101 is also a great tool that uses a random number and you can pinpoint who you want your messages to go to or you can send out a broadcast message. It is a fantastic tool!

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7 Angela Watson May 6, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Yes, I agree that Remind101 is a fantastic solution, as well as Google Voice which allows you to receive voicemail messages for free without giving out your cell number.

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8 Dustin May 7, 2014 at 2:14 pm

I’ve used Remind101 in the past also, but I may try Celly next year. It allows you to also receive text messages from your students and parents, but they never get your phone number.

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9 Heidi A. May 5, 2014 at 10:05 pm

It really depends upon the situation, but as a general rule, I would say no. I taught in a small private school before cell phones and e-mail. I made my phone number available then. Since then, I have taught in a large public school district and have been contacted via e-mail by a couple of rather threatening parents. I would not want them to ever have my cell phone number because of a concern of harassment. They easily contacted me via e-mail and if they wanted to talk, I would want to be at the school with other staff present if it was via school phone number or personal meeting.

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10 Dani B May 5, 2014 at 10:29 pm

I have no problem giving my cell phone to all of my students’ parents. I ask for and call them on theirs, so I feel they too should have the same access to me. In the 3 years I have done this, I have had absolutely no problems whatsoever. Caller ID permits me to screen calls as necessary, so I can choose to take calls or let them go to voicemail. I especially find that texting is a quick and easy way to send brief communication to parents that I KNOW they will receive (Johnny is bringing home a behavior referral ticket that needs to be returned tomorrow, etc) instead of the notes that mysteriously disappear before reaching home. I still send home notes/newsletters, but often follow them up with a reminder text for parents to watch for them. I use Remind101 for group texts, which again ensures that all of my parents who have cell phones (all but 1 out of 25 kids) receive my messages.

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11 Angela Watson May 6, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Great idea re: the group texts!

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12 Ryan M May 5, 2014 at 11:39 pm

I do not have an issue with giving my cell phone to the parents of my first grade students. I feel as if I make that step to create availability for parents, I help with creating a stronger bridge of trust. Considering it is a personal number, I believe it shows that “I want to make myself available for you if you ever need that connection.” I have never had an issue with a parent abusing the privileges of calling my cell phone or creating a situation I felt insecure with them having my cell phone number. Worst case scenario, I have the ability to ignore and block numbers. Typically at the beginning of the year I will go over how I would like the flow of communication to go in my classroom and I explain that email is always the best way to start. However, I understand emergencies arise and you may need to get a hold of me for something, if that is the case, use “this number.”

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13 Angela Watson May 6, 2014 at 9:32 pm

This is great, Ryan! It sounds like your students’ parents sense that this is something extra you have offered in order to build rapport and trust and really respect the privilege of having your number.

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14 Sandy Lawrence May 5, 2014 at 11:48 pm

I do not give out my cell or home phone. If parents need to contact me, they can e-mail or call the school. I can actually respond to an e-mail a lot quicker than a phone call. I I don’t contact my children’s teachers during non- school hours. They attend school in a district other than where I work. Do you call your doctor or lawyer during non-working hours? We are professionals and should be treated as such.

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15 Angela Watson May 6, 2014 at 9:33 pm

I agree that I can respond to emails faster than phone calls. I like to have everything written out, anyway, for documentation purposes. I always feel like what’s said via phone calls is subject to our memories, and emails are a concrete reminder.

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16 Megan Mckenzie May 6, 2014 at 6:39 am

I choose whom I give my number to. It’s a judgement call, but most of my parents keep in touch via txting. We are a partnership, I am approachable and should a parent need to reach me on the weekend or evening, then that time must suit them. I’m not that precious that I turn off from my job at 5pm Friday and back on Monday. I’m a mum, teacher, neighbour, coach and wife, I don’t clock off from any of these, it works for us in our small town and community.

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17 Angela Watson May 6, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Interesting, Megan. I’ve been reading a lot about how there is no such thing as work-life balance: we only have one life, and we shouldn’t try to compartmentalize different aspects of it. I wonder how this plays out practically for you, though–how do you keep from bringing the stresses of school home with you?

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18 Megan Mckenzie May 31, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Yes, there are stresses, some heartbreaking, some that just simply drive you crazy, but mostly I am laughing about my crazy day. We share a lot of our day with each other at school, support networks are key, just to put stress and concerns into perspective. A problem shared………

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19 Marcia May 6, 2014 at 9:27 pm

I am a special education ED teacher. I have found it useful for parents to have my cell phone number. Rarely do parents call me in the evenings or on the weekends, but, when they do, it is usually important. I always reserve the right to answer or call back when it is convenient for me. I plan to give out my number next school year too.

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20 Clara May 9, 2014 at 5:02 pm

In my experience teaching middle school, I think it is inappropriate to give students my personal cell phone number. I want to form close connections with my students, but you need that boundary between work and your personal life. I prefer e-mail or Remind101, which allows teachers to text their students a one-way text without the students ever seeing their teacher’s phone number, and the teacher never sees students’ phone numbers. It’s also free! It’s also a great way to contact parents and send them reminders. Especially helpful on field trips — you can easily roundup students and parents by safely sending a text.

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21 Kay Butler June 1, 2014 at 5:55 pm

As a sponsor for Mu Alpha Theta there are several times a year when we travel out of town for math tournaments. I give my phone numbers to parents and ask for theirs – in case of an emergency. I also give my number to those students who are participating in the tournaments in case they have to reach me during the tournament. In the past six years I’ve never had a student or parent misuse that privilege / information. However, I do not give out my numbers (cell or home) to parents in general. They can email me at any time, and I call them from school (during planning, lunch, or before / after school, depending upon what time is best for them) if they need to speak with me on the phone.

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22 Brett June 4, 2014 at 10:37 am

I’m in a 1:1 school and it was often necessary for parents to call me concerning tech issues, so yes, I give out my contact info. Our iPads are on warranty that if anyone outside of the school should try to “fix” an issue, the warranty is void. I’ve had a couple of situations where parents have called and we’ve avoided that issue.
Also, teaching in an 1:1 environment, accessibility has become 24/7. Feedback to students and questions from students and parents happen at all hours.
Last thing. Some seemingly threatening emails are really just temporary misunderstandings that are quickly diffused by listening to a voice versus reading between the lines of a poorly written email. I would much rather hear when a parent is actually frustrated than to try and infer that through email.

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