I, like most teachers, am often asked by colleagues and parents for my contact information. Most often my school-based email will suffice. There are times, however, where a phone number is the best way to communicate. Do I want to be publicizing my personal cell number for the world to see and for 24/7 unfettered access to me?
I am the technology teacher and technology coordinator for a school of 850 students and almost 200 staff members. I not only teach 700+ of those students but I manage all the in-house IT issues including our own tech support system. I teach a full schedule and handle all IT issues before or after school.
As with many teachers I don't necessarily want to be giving my personal cell phone number to every parent and staff member that asks for it. As it is I receive requests for tech support at midnight on Saturdays via email I can only imagine what would happen if my personal cell number was made available.
This is where Google Voice comes in...
... I activated a Google Voice number for free, tied it to my school's Google Apps For Education based email. Now I can have those phone interactions and publicize my number without sacrificing the ability to "disconnect" from work when I'm at home.
With my Google Voice number:
- I get texts to my email inbox
- I voicemails to my email inbox
- When logged in I can answer a call directly from my inbox
- The iPhone app allows me to call out from my cell using the Google Voice number as the outgoing number (the person I'm calling sees that number on their caller-ID, not the number of my personal cell)
- My Google Voice number is in my cell phone contacts, and when someone calls that line, my cell phone caller-ID shows "Google Voice," so I know it's a work-related call
- I can access texts and voicemails from my iPad
- I don't need a cell phone to have a cell phone
Google Voice allows me to provide a cell phone number for parent contact and staff assistance while keeping my actual cell phone off and out of sight. Between my iPad and my Google Voice number I can quickly receive texts, check voicemail, and more efficiently respond to all inquiries I receive.
I want to be accessible to the people I work with and the parents of the students I teach. At the same time I want to know I can step away from my work life to enjoy some disconnected personal time. Google Voice allows me to offer accessibility without compromising personal/family time away from school.