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Angelo Angelo is offline
 
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Am I The Jerk?
Old 11-08-2021, 05:30 AM
 
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Okay… so I’ve posted before about parents thinking they should have access to cell #s for teachers / school staff and how I choose not to share mine.

So a parent with whom I was speaking on the phone casually said, “can you text that to me?” I responded that I can email it to them. The parent said (with no shortage of snark in his voice, I thought), “Oh… I forgot. You’re known for not wanting anyone to have your cell number.”

I’m “known for” that? It is true that I prefer not to share my cell number with students or parents. I text my wife. I text my friends. I don’t text the parents of my students. When I asked what the parent meant by being “known for” not sharing my cell # the parent said, “Oh… it came up in the chat with some of the other parents. Someone needed to get ahold of you for something important and nobody had your number. A couple of the parents said you’re known for not sharing your number.”

Wait… what? This is the sort of thing parents “chat” about?

I guess my question is, am I out to lunch for not sharing my number? I understand that not everyone objects to having their personal numbers “out there”, but I would have assumed keeping this particular personal/professional boundary intact is not unique to me? But the parent made it sound like it’s unusual.

Case in point. I got an email last evening marked Urgent (who does that unless it’s a life or death thing?) from a parent complaining that a teacher wouldn’t respond to her “text” (on Sunday night??) and asking me to approve an essay extension for her son on the teacher’s behalf.

Why would I (Assistant Head of School) have anything to say about an essay extension in a course I don’t teach? And why is the parent trying to “text” the teacher on a Sunday evening? Why does the parent even have the teacher’s number?

Honestly… am I the jerk here for not wanting to share my number? I have little doubt that if I did share it, a sizeable number of parents and students would use it.


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Old 11-08-2021, 06:15 AM
 
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Most of the teachers at my school text parents on their personal devices. They make phone calls using them UNLESS they think they might have trouble later with the parent.

I have never given my cell number out to parents, and actually don't share it with staff unless they are personal friends of mine. Once in a while, I have a text on my phone that I discover at the end of the day with someone asking for my help. I have told them over and over that, I do not check my phone often during school hours. I have enough to do keeping up with my classes, lessons, and students. I do check my email. You need me? Email me.

I do not want to get phone calls or texts in the evening from people thinking they deserve 24 hour service. Go through the drive through.
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Old 11-08-2021, 06:23 AM
 
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You are not wrong in choosing not to share it. Stand your ground. Business is business and reaching you through email is sufficient. I’m guessing you check it often enough anyway to be able to respond to a parent in a timely manner. And you are right...the minute one person would get your private number you would be flooded with messages from students and parents. My guess would be MOSTLY those entitled parents who thing their money buys everything. Again, don’t share your number.
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Old 11-08-2021, 06:35 AM
 
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Urgent email on a Sunday night for an extension means it’s due on Monday, student has not started it yet, and has more important things to do than to to it now.

My guess is that the teacher now regrets parents having his/her personal number.

Yup, this is one of the things parents “chat” about. The I need 24/7 access parents need internet sympathy for their complaints. This parent is now chatting that not only did the teacher not respond, you did not respond to their complaint about the teacher.

No, you are not out of bounds. If the school wants you available on non school time, they need to provide you with a school phone. But, that is not a solution as what this parent wants is for an administrator to override the teacher and grant her child special privileges.
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Old 11-08-2021, 07:42 AM
 
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Nope. Nope. Noppity. Nope.

Do not give out your cell phone number. Next time a parent asks, tell the them the school doesn’t supply staff with cell phones.

I understand that younger generations find it weird/annoying/puzzling why the older generation likes to keep things private. Stand your ground.


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Old 11-08-2021, 08:07 AM
 
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Many people in business use the same cell for work and personal use. People have come to expect that people they do business with are at their beck and call/text. My sons get business texts at any time.

Education has been run on the business model for some time now. You're assistant head of school so I think you can ask for a school cell phone for school business. You can give out that number. You still have some choice about when you answer texts and calls. How does your head of school deal with weekend and evening calls and texts?

I hate the business model for schools. I hate that some politicians have made teachers the enemy (along with anyone else who might border on intellectual or be capable of thought) and engendered widespread distrust and hatred of teachers with the sole purpose of destroying public education. Of course, parents talk about us!

And your parents pay big bucks for private education. They have concierge/boutique doctors under contract to return their texts quickly. They expect no less from you, a lowly teacher/school administrator.
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Stand your ground!
Old 11-08-2021, 09:20 AM
 
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I have not, even when asked, ever provided my personal phone number to parents. The hardest situation was when a parent on a field trip asked me. I said no. On field trips I keep my class and chaperones together unless the program needs us to be in smaller groups.

There really isn't an emergency that necessitates calling us outside of school hours. I don't answer emails in the evening or during the weekend. I might have a draft ready to go but I won't send it until work hours. Otherwise parents develop unrealistic expectations.

Parents talk about us...a lot. But you have to not care about it. I've never worked in a school climate like you are in. However, even with the tuition, it is still a job. They didn't buy you 24/7.

This won't apply to you, but I use a free app Bloomz, that has an automatic reply to emails that states this is the teacher's quiet time. It allows me to set up quiet time even on the weekends. I can still read and reply if I choose to. I think Class Dojo has the same capabilities. I'm putting this information here for other teachers.

So Angelo, do not give up your personal phone number. It's a slippery slope!

Last edited by KetchupChips; 11-08-2021 at 04:04 PM..
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Old 11-08-2021, 10:06 AM
 
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There are times that I wish other staff didn’t have my cell number. I had to get down right nasty with the school nurse as she was contacting me at all times. (Including 4:30 am)
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Old 11-08-2021, 01:38 PM
 
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I never have and never will share my number! They don't get 24 hour access to me. Plus, I still use a Tracfone and pay per text.

I also don't check email during eves, weekends, or school breaks ( and don't have it on my phone on purpose!).
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Old 11-08-2021, 01:45 PM
 
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Stick to your guns and keep you number private. There are very few true emergencies that require an administrator's immediate attention. Parents wanting your cell number really comes down to parents who want immediate access you you day or night. That's pretty unreasonable.

Parents will learn that you're not available and figure out they can access you you via email or leave a message for you at school.

Keep a lock on that phone number of yours.


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Old 11-08-2021, 02:10 PM
 
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My cell phone and my social media are (and always will be) separate from my job.
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Old 11-08-2021, 02:26 PM
 
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I am careful about who gets my cell number. I don't like to give it out to doctors or car repair places. I tell them not to call but they do. I do have a Google number that I have given out in the past. Not for a couple of years though. I used it for field trips. And I call parents from it if I call from home. (I know--many people don't call from home but I find it easier to talk to them when they are not at work.)
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Old 11-08-2021, 02:52 PM
 
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Absolutely not. The only person at my school who has my mobile number is my administrator, and that’s for absolute emergencies. Having parents with your personal contact information is asking for trouble if you’re ever sued, not to mention the completely inappropriate boundary violations it invites.
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Old 11-08-2021, 03:17 PM
 
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Or, NTA if you follow certain other forums out there.


To echo others, DON'T give out your cell phone number. Once that happens, then you will be inundated with all sorts of absurd requests. At all hours. And, from the sounds of some of your stories from years past, multiple attempts at contact by the same parents because you didn't answer your phone the first time they called you......(How dare you not pick up my call????)


When we had to shut down for the pandemic in March 2020, our district later mandated that we call parents and students weekly to check in, and to see how students were doing. I set up a Google Voice account specifically for this purpose, and was very glad I did, because I would get calls all the time for every little question. If I didn't check my voicemail soon enough, then I would get emails, asking why I hadn't called back yet.


Keep your boundaries. I do, and it helps keep my sanity.
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Old 11-08-2021, 04:37 PM
 
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I don't give out my personal phone number. My whole school uses class dojo. Before that I used Remind which parents can join by text and I could use it as an app. Parents mostly message me through dojo - I keep my phone in my pocket so I get the notifications. I teach special needs, so there are times when I need a question answered fast.

During the pandemic I set up a google voice number and linked it to my cell phone so that I could call parents without giving them my personal number. I now use it to text the one parent that can't seem to figure out class dojo.
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Old 11-08-2021, 05:00 PM
 
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No, you do not need to provide parents will a personal cell number, nor should you be made to feel guilty about it. I refuse and continue to stand my ground. Last year the principal wanted staff to download TEAMS on our phones to make it easier to contact us as a group. Umm...what's so hard about sending a group email just like you've been doing for the last umpteen years. No, I'm not putting TEAMS on my phone. I can get messages on my school issued computer, it even notifies me with a ding when I have a message. I do not need to have my phone out too. I do not need or want to get messages in multiple places. We are given a professional school issued email address for a reason. Please use it for professional communications. Ridiculousness if you ask me. I turn my computer off when I go home, therefore I turn work off too. My personal phone is just that - personal. It goes home with me, work does not.

Sorry.....I kinda went down a rabbit hole just to say you have a right to keep your number personal and not feel guilty about it.
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Old 11-08-2021, 05:18 PM
 
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I don't give out my cell number to parents. We communicate via Dojo and that's enough. I made an exception to a student I had one year who was diabetic--I'd text her mom if needed. I always figured if it got out of hand (which it never did, I could just block the parent's number).

You could be know for a lot worse things than not giving out your cell number
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Old 11-08-2021, 07:19 PM
 
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Thanks for the insights.

The school actually did buy me a phone (just got it last week!), but even those admin numbers don’t get published for student or parent use. They’re mostly internal for staff use. I mean… they’re not 100% secure and there are ways parents could find them if they wanted to badly enough. But I confirmed with the Head today that he doesn’t give his out to parents or students. Nor is there really any expectation that teachers will share their numbers, but I guess some teachers see it as the path of least resistance to give out their numbers. The younger ones in particular seem to regard texting and WhatsApp as ubiquitous and will happily share their numbers and social media handles with anyone who asks. I find this a bit troubling, but I guess it’s up to the individual.

I don’t know about others, but I’m certainly not on a texting basis with my doctor or dentist. I call the office to book an appointment or call, and if they call back, it’s from an office number or else a blocked number. I’m good with old school personally and like personal and professional boundaries.

I have dealt with parents over the years who had no sense of boundaries. There was the one who came in for a parent-teacher conference and handed me an unsolicited manuscript for a novel and asked if I could arrange a conference for them with my editor / publisher. Or the parent who sells real estate and somehow got my home address and put a sheet in my mailbox with a color picture of my house and an estimate of its current value and asking when I might have some time to sit down and offer feedback on her new website (yeah right) and discuss any real estate needs I might have and my goals for the future. Ummmmm… I teach your kid writing… I’m not your real estate client. I said “not interested” and she said, “That’s no problem. I just wanted to make sure that if you did change your mind and needed a realtor I would be your go to person.” Ummmmm…. again… you are a parent. Why would you be my “go to person” for real estate?
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Old 11-08-2021, 09:13 PM
 
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You are absolutely NOT a jerk for wanting to have some work/home life separation. NO teacher or administrator should have to work 24/7 which is exactly what would happen if you did not keep your cell number private. That parent was simply pushing your buttons to see how he could get a reaction and thereby pressure you to give him your private phone number.
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Agree
Old 11-09-2021, 02:21 AM
 
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I had an unlisted number I did not give to people.
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You are not alone
Old 11-09-2021, 03:07 AM
 
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I guard my cell number with my life. And I won’t set up voicemail on it! Believe it or not I have a landline number I share IF NECESSARY and that phone takes messages.
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Old 11-09-2021, 02:16 PM
 
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Quote:
Having parents with your personal contact information is asking for trouble if you’re ever sued, not to mention the completely inappropriate boundary violations it invites.
^^ this ^^
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Old 11-10-2021, 02:36 PM
 
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I only communicate with parents and students over secure connections provided by my employer, so school/government email (kept on record for 10 years) and analog phones on school grounds. As much fun as it would be to have some idiot parent sue me and then I get deposed for all of my cell communications (which can and would happen), I'll go ahead and pass on it.

Besides all of that, if it's a personal cell phone, parents or anybody else are complete, unmitigated morons if they complain that you don't give out that #. Our union makes it very clear that we are never required to use personal electronic devices for school business, and even without that policy written into our contracts I'd still laugh in the face of any parent who tried saying I was doing anything wrong by keeping my private cell # private.

Even work-issued cells usually come with instructions about who you can give the # to before you sign on the legally-binding dotted line to check them out.

Private school is the wild west, evidently, lol.
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Old 11-10-2021, 03:13 PM
 
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Others have already said it well. I'll just add- I never give my cell number to parents or students, unless said parent or student is a personal friend (has happened). I'm also really careful about who can access that information if I'm asked to give it out.

NTA. (or NTJ in this case)

And yes, parents most certainly DO talk about these things!
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They are not entitled!
Old 11-10-2021, 05:30 PM
 
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Parents are not entitled to my personal cell. I use an app (Bloomz), but even that is not on my cell phone. I pay for my phone; the school does not.
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Old 11-10-2021, 08:15 PM
 
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I don't give out my number. Parents can contact me during contact hours. Period. If they message me after hours, I might respond, or I might not. I keep it professional. You are not out of touch.
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No
Old 11-11-2021, 06:21 AM
 
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This is called a BOUNDARY.

You should not compromise it by doing something you a) are not comfortable with, b) know will result in unnecessary calls/texts at all hours, and c) are most definitely not required to do.

You are not a 24/7 employee. You are available during “business hours” like anyone else.

I do not give out my phone number. I also don’t have a class Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram account. I have never used Google Voice. Parents just consider me “low tech” and move on.
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Old 11-15-2021, 07:30 AM
 
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I have a Google Voice number I use for school to communicate with parents and students. I give it to everyone, but let them know that if I am busy and it's after school hours I may not get with them until the next school day. In all the years I have had it I have never once had an issue with parents not respecting boundaries. Honestly, my students use it the most.

It's so much easier than email for me and I can text parents requests for IEP meetings and such. We are not allowed to give our personal numbers out per our district policy. It can put someone in a world of hurt if there is ever an issue and a due process hearing. Your personal cell phone can be confiscated as evidence if you used it to communicate with parents and students involved in the case.
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Old 11-27-2021, 09:02 AM
 
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We are not allowed to use our personal number with parents because it cannot be saved or gone back through if the need arises. We have the distinct remind we can use if we want. It does not give them my number but I still get the communication. I like it and you can set office hours
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