Keeping Educators Connected - Even When Always on the Move
Ever think about the size of a high school? Many high schools have more than 4,000 students. Housing that many students, administrators, and teachers requires sprawling campuses. Even elementary schools are vast combinations of grounds and buildings. Interestingly, the vastness of schools and today’s active, hands-on teaching demands a new way of communicating.
I’ll make my case from four perspectives and then you can counter or comment. Let's start by walking a mile in the shoes of the teacher, Assistant Principal, parent, and school nurse to assess how a new approach to mobile communications capabilities enables them to enhance student outcomes.
Consider the class where a student has Type 1 diabetes and a pump that mom and a school administrator remotely monitor. The teacher has recently transitioned the class to PE. She is walking back to the library to pick up a few books for use in the afternoon lesson.
Meanwhile, while the diabetic student is actively participating in PE, let's say her blood sugars drop into the danger zone. Alarms go off. Where’s the student? Where’s the teacher? Mom’s frantic. How do you quickly connect the right people to prevent a coma? Let’s make this situation even more real - there were actually two students with Type 1 diabetes in that class.
It may sound like an extreme example, but teachers are always on the move. They may be transitioning students to PE like the above example. Or, it might be library day. They may be taking the students to lunch, or outside on recess duty, it could be morning duty, afternoon dismissal, or even conducting an after-school club or coaching that has them out of the classroom. Teachers can be tough to find in an emergency sometimes.
The receptionist can page the classroom - no answer. Now what? Maybe they announce over the school intercom, but the teacher may be outside. Even if the teacher hears it, they have to stop what they are doing, potentially while in the middle of an engaging outdoor science experiment involving the entire class of 30 students. Do they drop everything? Send a student? How does the teacher know the level of importance for every daily event?
Now the teacher is at home and their mobile phone rings. It’s a student struggling with tonight’s math homework. The teacher has offered their personal number as a way to be accessible to students. Now that personal number is subjected to all types of security risks.
One more example, before moving to another perspective. It’s Monday, just after lunch. A student decided to stay up until 2 AM last night playing Fortnight. Now their behavior is not meeting class expectations. After several redirects, it’s time to get the parents involved. The teacher contacts the parent, on the spot, using their personal phone number. Once again, that teacher is trying to do the right thing, but now their personal phone identity is subject to a much larger level of risk.
The Assistant Principal (AP)
As an AP, you’re supporting the teachers by dropping in to make sure all is well in your area. You’ve passed through one wing and moved on to another. The students have learned the pattern. Today, the class clown decides to test whether or not a Bunsen burner can ignite the contents of a girl’s purse. The teacher calls down to the office. Meanwhile, the girl’s protective boyfriend has now jumped on the class clown and chaos ensues. How do you find that AP?
Google for Education found that 70% of teachers in the US think that parents are not sufficiently involved in their child's education. Teachers use several techniques, including different ways of communicating, to encourage parent participation. Even seemingly simple techniques such as reaching out to them during the day can be complicated. Being able to communicate with parents when both parents are working is often tricky during school hours. SMS or chat apps and quick, on-demand video meetings often help these families communicate and stay in contact even when both parents are working.
Even if busy parents are difficult to reach, they are actively engaged in their student’s success, with 25% of parents spending 7+ hours a week assisting their children with homework according to a Google for Education report. When’s the last time those parents had to solve differential equations or provide examples of onomatopoeia? Being able to SMS the teacher's business line, use a video app to connect with a teacher quickly to get guidance and clarify the assignment could reduce this time, or at least make it more effective.
The School Nurse
A student comes rushing into the nurse’s office with the message to come out to the soccer field immediately. She grabs her kit and off she goes. In the meantime, that AP brings down the class clown and a classmate as they now have third-degree burns from the flaming purse that exploded when the fire hit the perfume. Where’s the nurse?
The Case for Mobility
The examples are endless yet there are a couple of key themes:
- Speed of response
- Separating personal and professional identities.
What level of response is needed? How does that critical information get communicated? How can teachers continue to use their beloved mobile phones but still project the school identity?
8x8 has solved these challenges with cloud communications. A mobile app is included that will:
- Maintain the school identity even from their personal mobile phone
- Keep them connected using preferred communications channels - SMS, chat, a phone call or video meeting, on a mobile device
- The ability to connect from any device
- Presence showing availability
- Move from a chat to a call to a video meeting with a single click
Now teachers, parents, assistant principals and school nurses can instantly communicate the level of urgency, find the right person at the right time and collaborate to ensure students have the accessibility and support needed to be successful. All while, the system can ensure the school identity is always projected to keep personal details private.