The winter holidays are over, and students are heading back into the classroom. For elementary, middle school, and high school administrators, this is a good time of year to add SMS text messages to their communication strategy.
SMS messages allow schools to communicate effectively with their parent body. They may use the service to reach all parents, parents within a grade, or specific individuals.
High schools and some middle schools might also consider using text messages as a way to reach out to students as well. By 2019, 95% of all US teenagers had access to a smartphone. In 2021, 71% of American 12-year-olds had cell phones. With everyone using cell phones, schools should take advantage of the different channels to engage their students on their phones.
Parent Notifications Top the List
We’ve seen an increase in text alert systems for schools over the past few years. More and more schools have found it to be a far more effective way to reach parents with school announcements.
The top five types of notifications that schools send out are:
- Winter weather updates and school cancellations
- Reminders of school events, such as athletic events
- Scheduling changes and holiday reminders
- Parent-Teacher conferences reminders and appointments
- Social events, including prom
Mass text messaging for schools is a very cost-effective and efficient tool for reaching parents. Some schools are experimenting with different types of messages, including WhatsApp groups for class parents to keep them informed of activities taking place in the classroom.
Student Club Organization
Text messages are increasingly being used by different school clubs to engage members and boost participation. Sending out a group message to all members ensures that everyone receives important notifications.
School clubs use messaging to promote their events. When done using groups on WhatsApp, they often include images and videos to spark interest in the event. Student clubs have begun using survey tools built into the WhatsApp platform to get opinions, and some have included Yes/No buttons asking members if they are planning on attending an event. They also send out event day updates to boost attendance.
Some Student Clubs offer advice and tips to members or boost their agenda with links to content related to their club.
Some elementary and middle school teachers have begun communicating with class parents over text messages as a way to enhance the educational experience.
Teachers are using SMS and other chat channels to inform parents of daily homework assignments, school reports that are due, and upcoming tests. Teachers can also use text tools to schedule conferences with parents.
Some high school teachers are using text messages directly in their lessons to help enhance the lesson and encourage more student participation.
Learning about the Arts
Some innovative teachers are sharing works of art with their students and having group discussions about the artwork through chat tools. These texted conversations can be far more engaging than a classroom discussion, and students who are too shy to speak might be more comfortable participating over chat.
Role Playing Dialog
Fewer students today are reading Shakespearean plays. To combat that, some teachers are having students read a scene and then reenact the scene with a classmate over a text message. The exercise helps students get a better understanding of the plays they are reading and allows them to put their interpretation to the classics.
With all students connected to a group, teachers can start a story with a writing prompt and have each student contribute a line to the story. Students learn collaboration and storytelling skills while using a channel they are comfortable with.
Quizzes and Testing
Teachers can use broadcast texting features to send students quizzes and test questions over text messages. The tests can have space for writing an answer or offering multiple choice buttons for the student to respond with. Teachers can also introduce flash review sessions after every lesson, where students get questions over SMS and have to send back answers to demonstrate that they understood the material.
Best Practices for School Text Messages
While text messaging is an excellent administrative and educational tool for schools, there are some things that schools must be aware of.
- Use clear and concise language when sending out messages. Be careful of the tone of voice that is being used in the message. Like all text messages, things that are written may be misinterpreted.
- Consider that not all parents have the same language skills, so consider sending messages in those languages spoken by the students’ families
- When sending out messages, recognize the possibility that they will be screenshot and shared. Be mindful that your message can be taken out of context, so be thoughtful when sending out messages.
- Try to always use positive language in messages rather than negative messages.
- Text multiple types of messages rather than just sending out homework assignments. Include a mix of content when reaching out to parents.
- Be careful that you don’t send a student’s information to the wrong parent or a group. Always double check the distribution when discussing a specific child.
Talk to one of our messaging specialists to learn more about education-based text messaging.