Students have cell phones. If they don’t yet, they probably will by Christmas. It can be a great way to communicate with them directly, but it can also be an overwhelming tide of communication. 3 am memes, anyone?
Setting some ground rules and boundaries for how you reach out to students is a great way to put safeguards around yourself and the students you communicate with! Here are some suggestions:
- Have designated “off” time! Set a 9 am to 9 pm boundary for replies. Did they text at 11 pm? Unless it’s a BIG emergency, it can wait until the morning.
- No more than a few texts. Use only as a way to briefly check-in or ask about something. If the thread is turning into something they want to have a conversation about, find a time to meet in person to talk about it. See if they can come early or stay a little later after your usual meeting.
- Avoid phone calls. Having a written record equates to the “have more than one person in the room while interacting” rule. It also helps to make sure you prioritize conversations for in-person times.
- Make sure your phone number is accessible to everyone, not just a few. Be willing to give it out to anyone. Be clear with rule number one from the get-go.
- Ask students for their numbers. If you need the student’s number but can’t find a good time to ask them, ask their parent so that they are in the loop. Parents should know that you are contacting the student! Another way is asking if another student can text a student about something. This could be a great way to serve!
Do you have any boundaries or ideas for contacting students? Let us know!
Kayla is the Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, IL. Along with her role, she is currently attending Luther Seminary to get her MA in Children, Youth and Family Ministry. When she isn’t at church or writing papers, you can find her practicing yoga, running, or adventuring around Chicago!