Verbal communication with parents or guardians is an essential component to any successful school year. Many administrators make this form of communication mandatory for their teachers, but are financially unable to provide them with the necessary tools to accomplish the task. Most schools have 3-5 phone lines (if you're lucky), but they are ALWAYS in use. It is almost a game we play, finger ready, waiting for an open line.
Cell phones have made this task simpler for many teachers, but at some schools cellular reception is spotty at best, and who wants to give out their personal phone number? Google had part of the solution with Google Voice and I have written about it before here, but for phone calls, Voice is only good for receiving voice calls (text messages is another story). Like most other technology, Voice's usefulness is magnify when combined with another tool. In this case, Google Chat. This is not a "new" partnership, but is one that is not well documented in the education community.
I have created a very short video tutorial on how to facilitate this partnership for yourself. If done as shown in the video, it will be like creating your own classroom number, compete with voicemail. I can not recommend enough the use of Google Voice for classroom teachers. I hope you enjoy the tutorial. Please feel free to ask questions or leave your own success stories in the comments section below.
*The video will be updated as the kinks related to Google Hangout are resolved. If you are interested and missed the the I/O keynote, you can check it out here. One hour and thirty minutes in, you can view an amazing education specific announcement that has the potential to change the face 1 to 1.