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In this unprecedented time, educators across the country are asking themselves two major questions:

1. How do I ensure that virtual learning is equitable?
2. How do I communicate effectively with students and families at this time?

Typically, giving out your personal phone number is considered a big no-no in my field as it is viewed as unprofessional and inappropriate. Except, during the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers are being asked —or, as in my case, required — to forget this rule. This new mandate made by my district led me to the TextNow app. Within seconds, my cell phone became a personal device and a professional one while still allowing me to maintain separation between these two parts of my quarantine life.

All I had to do was download the app and choose a number. With my new work number available, I began sharing it with my students via Google Classroom and their Gmail. That very day, multiple students reached out to me by phone call and text message seeking help with their virtual assignments. Additionally, I began making phone calls to the families of students who have not yet been online to do their virtual learning assignments. This was the greatest advantage of all. “Hello. This is Mrs. Malsbury from Passage Middle School. I wanted to reach out to see if there is anything your family needs right now.” Who would have thought that such a simple phrase would lead to huge sighs of relief, tears, and such an outpouring of appreciation?

I had multiple families share that they were in need of a laptop, internet access, and information about our meals-to-go program. Some days it is hard to feel like we are still making a difference, but every parent that I connected to the information and support they needed reminded me of that feeling we all have had in the classroom - and the one we are all desperate to feel again –when we are able to help a child finally understand a concept they have been struggling to grasp. This has led me to work towards providing a more equitable experience for my students and develop a strong line of communication for the remainder of the school year.

The silver lining to this whole experience of virtual learning is that I have discovered so many amazing digital tools that are not only valuable during this pandemic but going forward into the rest of my teaching career. Thanks TextNow, for allowing me to continue to be here for my students and their families.

Download TextNow today to stay connected for free. Because communication truly does belong to everyone.

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