Stay Connected with Google Voice
One of the keys to distance learning is being present. You can not just throw things online and walk away. If students are unable to come to school they will likely have questions. Email and chat are one of several ways for students to reach out and connect. However, being available by phone can alleviate concerns for students and parents.
Use a Google Phone Number
I have given out my personal phone number without an issue, but having a separation of school and personal in general is a good idea. Google will give you a free phone number that you can use on your cell phone or computer.
Make a New Gmail Account
Advice I have always given is to create a Gmail account just for teaching. This is where you create your materials. This way it is on your account, you own them. If you were to leave your district, you don’t have to figure out how to take your files with you. Create a folder in your teacher Gmail account and share it with your school account.
From your Gmail account that you use only for teaching materials, go to voice.google.com. They will allow you to sign up for a free phone number. Use this phone number to give to students and parents.
Google Voice can be forwarded to multiple phones. Have it ring your school phone and cell phone. Have control over where you’re able to be contacted. Working from home today, have Voice for the day ring your home phone.
Do Not Disturb
Setting boundaries on your time as a teacher is recommended. We all need time to ourselves and a break. Email you can check whenever, but phone calls are more challenging to set a time for. Google Voice allows you to turn on do not disturb. You don’t want to turn your regular phone to do not disturb, your kids/spouse/hair dresser need to get a hold of you! The visual voice mail is excellent. During dinner time/personal time use your Google Voice app on your phone to switch to do not disturb. Calls during this time will go to voice mail and you can see in text what messages they left you later when you’re back in teacher mode. Let parents know your “office hours” of when you’ll be available by phone, use Google Voice to help you manage the calls.