In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Day 2016, I thought it would be nice to take a look at how Unified Communications can help make communications easier for teachers inside and outside of the classroom.
Effective communication on campus is vital for helping students learn and keeping them safe. Whether it be among faculty members, students and teachers, teachers and parents, or campus-wide, every faculty member has their own unique communication needs. Teachers in particular benefit from unified modes of communication due to their diverse set of responsibilities- many of which they end up taking home with them. Implementing a Unified Communications (UC) solution on campus, such as Switchvox, provides teachers the features they need to do their job to their best of their abilities. Whether they need to call the school nurse for a broken arm on the playground or host a long-distance conference call with parents, teachers deserve technology that enables communication to be mobile, personalized, and accurate.
UC softphone applications enable teachers to have the same connectivity on their mobile phones as they have on their desk phones, including the ability to access contacts, set up or join conference calls, and make outbound calls using the school’s caller ID, keeping their personal number private. Technical Director of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Massachusetts, Sheri Cheng, says the Switchvox softphone allows the school to stay in touch with individual faculty members who may not be on campus at a given time, including their sixth grade history teacher on maternity leave. “Although she is out on leave from teaching, she is still actively involved in [school] events, so we have many reasons to stay in contact with her on a regular basis,” Cheng says.
Teachers spend a lot of time outside of the classroom throughout the day. Whether it’s playground duty, cafeteria monitoring, of field trips, getting in touch with them via legacy system can be a hassle. With the presence UC feature, teachers can let everyone on campus know where they are located or what their class is doing. Using the call rules feature, they can personalize the order in which their phones ring. For example, if Ms. Jacobs is in-and-out of her classroom all day, she can set incoming calls to ring twice on her desk phone, then automatically transfer to her mobile phone. Or, if she is home sick and doesn’t want to be bothered, her “out for the day” status automatically adjusts her call rules to send all incoming calls straight to voicemail. Instant messages are a useful feature when faculty needs to relay a message without disturbing a lesson. Also, important information that isn’t appropriate for the intercom system can be sent via instant message, such as an early dismissal or a heads-up on a fire drill.
Oftentimes, a teacher needs to discuss the details of an upcoming field trip, answer questions about an assignment, or hold a long-distance parent-teacher conference. An easy way to accomplish this without having to make several individual phone calls is through a personalized conference room. Conference rooms can be accessed by individuals or involve several parties. As an inner city school with numerous students from non-English-speaking families, Roxbury Prep uses Switchvox UC conference rooms to host a language liaison to ensure proper communication during conference calls and progress updates.
Communication among parents, teachers, and school administration is vital, and needs to be accurate so that situations can be handled appropriately. With a UC solution, call recording can be enabled for any extension, and can be a helpful way for teachers to keep a digital archive of important phone calls or conferences. Also available with UC is a personalized voicemail system for each extension. The voicemail-to-email feature enables voicemails to be emailed to teachers in a .wav audio file. If Ms. Jacobs receives a message from an upset parent, instead of trying to relay the information to the principle, she can simply forward the audio file straight to the principle’s email, which ensures accuracy. Also, since student records are migrating from file-folders to digital, important voicemails can be digitally archived and easily accessed.
As you can see, teachers are responsible for much more than creating lesson plans and grading papers. With a legacy phone system, teachers are restricted in where and how they can be reached, causing frustration for faculty members and parents, and safety concerns during an emergency. Unified Communications solutions, such as Switchvox, include all of the features teachers need to be reachable and to make communications mobile, personalized, and accurate- allowing them to focus on their number one responsibility: to shape the minds of our children.
Want to know more about UC for teachers? Visit Digium Education page for more resources, including school success stories, guides, webinars more!