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As I interviewed parents for Enhancing Partnerships Between Teachers and Parents of English Language Learners, I was expecting public school parents to complain that they did not have good communication with school personnel. This expectation was formed after many years as a public school administrator and being told time and time again by parents I was the only administrator they could easily access.
As I interviewed both charter and public school parents, they had concerns and difficulty talking with teachers and administrators. With many charter schools being much smaller than public schools, I pondered on why they shared the same communication concerns.
They reflected on a practice I have utilized since being a teacher. My cell phone is given to all students and parents with the admonishment to call with any concern at any day or time. I have never been "cranked called" and I am blessed my wife, also an educator, has proven to be an outstanding translator when my Spanish fails me.
This practice has provided the community I serve with access. It has given students the ability to talk with their principal directly. It has stopped fights, drive-bys. I have responded when parents had a children run -away, or have a concern about a grade. Most of the time it allows a parent to sleep better knowing a concern is being handled. My bosses comment how they no longer receive complaints about the school.
The most important job we have as educators is to educate our students and provide support to their families. The cell phone is my tool to build connectivity. I wonder what tools are used by other educators who share the same passion as me.