Can Teachers Text Students
Text messaging has become the most preferred means of communication in recent years. It’s more convenient as people can respond whenever they want and the information is readily available for them to reference.
Students as a group love text messaging for these reasons as well as the various new features that enable them to creatively express themselves.
With text messaging being the most popular means of communication, it’s understandable that teachers may consider leveraging them.
Unfortunately, this has become a controversial topic as some parents and other concerned parties believe text messaging between teachers and students to be inappropriate.
But despite the concerns expressed by some, others believe this form of communication between teachers and students has some advantages.
The question however remains whether there’re any regulations against such forms of communication between these two parties.
The truth is that Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) does not address teacher-student texting but simply requires schools to establish their own policies to safeguard the privacy of their students.
So, while texting students is not illegal, each school has its own policies on such activities. Some schools prohibit texting while others do not but simply mandate their teachers to only text students for academic purposes.
Even in cases where texting is allowed by the school, there’re best practices laid out for teachers to follow. We’ll take a look at some of these guidelines later in this article.
Pros Of Teachers Texting Students
Text messaging is the most popular communication tool among the youth. So, it’s understandable that using these channels could have its benefits.
Learning doesn’t need to stop outside the classroom. Teachers can leverage text messages to provide students with relevant information and tips.
It also makes it easy for teachers to help clarify any issues students may have with their assignments, projects, and other academic deliverables.
Both teachers and students have smartphones readily available wherever they may go. There’s no need to carry a computer with you everywhere you go when you can easily receive any necessary information via text messaging.
Teachers can reach students irrespective of their location and possibly even identify those who have successfully seen any sent information.
Instead of students logging into a school management system to read important emails, text messaging makes this easy for them. This also reduces the chances of students missing relevant information.
There’s a story on Reddit about a professor who had to text a student who was late for an examination. The student overslept but rushed to the examination hall when he received the professor’s message.
Unfortunately, this would have been impossible if the professor had contacted the student through their learning management system.
Improved Teacher-Student Relationship
Students enjoy text messaging and teachers could leverage this to build stronger teacher-student relationships.
This makes the teacher more approachable to the student which makes it easier for them to approach the teacher whenever they have any challenges. Going to the teacher’s class also becomes a fun experience.
Cons Of Teachers Texting Students
Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the advantages, let’s look at the disadvantages.
According to studies, texting can engender a false sense of intimacy. In the case of teachers and students, this can be misunderstood by students who are still developing emotionally.
The context of a message could be misinterpreted by a student which can lead to accusations of inappropriate behavior.
Even in schools where texting students is allowed, they recommend that teachers use school platforms and devices for such activities.
This ensures that communication can be moderated by the school. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case as some teachers may use their private phones for such communications.
Schools are unable to keep track of discussions on the teacher’s private phone to ensure that they’re adhering to school policies on the content of such communications.
While this can lead to stronger teacher-student relationships for some students, those who do not have access to personal phones or can’t afford the necessary data plans will be left marginalized.
This creates a situation where some students are receiving preferential treatment over others.
While the majority of teachers are trained professionals, there’re always a few who may take advantage of such situations. There have been reports of teachers sending inappropriate messages to students.
No parent would be happy seeing their child texting with their teacher every time. This is especially true in the case of a male teacher.
Alarms start ringing and accusations start flying. In this age of social media, such accusations easily spread and could follow the teacher even after they’ve been proven innocent.
Just because your school allows you to text students doesn’t mean you should spam them with messages. Back in my school days, we had a teacher who kept sending messages over simple things.
She would send us a message to inform us of changes to an assignment and then send more to remind us of additional changes. While we appreciated these alerts, it became a habit that eventually grew tired of.
Best Practices For Teachers When Texting Students
Let’s look at some best practices teachers can follow when their school or district allows texting students.
Use School-Approved Tools
While some schools may allow their teachers to text students, you should always use school-approved tools. Simply using Facebook messenger and other social media tools could land you in trouble.
After, these schools still prohibit social media interaction between staff and students. So, it’s advisable to use the tool recommended by the school. Additionally, some schools leverage messaging services for such purposes.
Don’t Disclose Confidential Information
There’re official channels for conveying grades and other personally identifiable information. You should refrain from discussing confidential information over text messages.
To avoid a third party intercepting sensitive information, teachers should only use emails, in-person, and other official channels, which are considered more secure, to divulge sensitive information.
Even when your school allows text message communication with students, you should keep your messages professional and focused on academic matters.
Avoid using slang and other informal language, in such communications, as it can create over-familiarity which could blur the lines between teachers and students.
Avoid Personal Topics
Text messages should only be used to discuss academic matters. Don’t discuss any personal issues such as family or relationship problems.
This is inappropriate and would most likely land the teacher in trouble. Teachers should direct students to the guidance counselor for help on such issues.
Can A Teacher Get Fired For Texting A Student
Even in schools where texting students is allowed, teachers can get fired for sending inappropriate messages to students or breaching school or district policies on student-teacher communication.
Some schools and districts have strict policies that prohibit teachers from communicating with students over text messages. Teachers who breach these policies are subject to disciplinary actions including termination of contract, in severe cases.
That said, it’s not illegal to text students but schools and districts have policies that govern such activities. Teachers should only leverage such means of communication once they’ve received approval from their school. And even in such cases, it should only be academically related.