Note: I originally posted this in early October, when I first started using Google Voice to contact parents. Today was my self-deemed parent phone call day after school, and again I turned to Google Voice. It’s helped me immensely throughout the year, and I still recommend it to teachers looking for a good way to contact parents outside of school.
Google Voice is a free service that allows you to sign up for a phone number and make phone calls either through your computer or through your cell/home phone (but the Google Voice number is the one that appears on the receiver’s caller ID).
Why did I think Google Voice would be a useful tool for me? For calling parents.
Here are common issues I stumble upon when calling parents:
- I call from the school phone, which means I am at school. They are not available to talk during school hours.
- They have blocked the school phone number.
- I call from my cell phone in the evening, but block the number (since I don’t want them to have my personal number). They have blocked numbers blocked or don’t pick up for blocked numbers.
- The only number I have to give them in voicemails is the school number with my extension.
- I forget to check my school voicemail.
Here is how Google Voice has solved these problems:
- I can now call parents at times that they may be able to talk without blocking my number.
- They probably haven’t blocked my Google Voice number.
- I can give them a phone number to call back and it will actually reach me (it calls my cell phone and gives me the option to pick up the call or send them to voicemail). If they leave me a voicemail, it is accessible to me and I will check it.
- It is not my personal phone number.
Google has informative videos to check out that shows you how to use Google Voice. I have also made calls from my computer (you will have to download a plugin and have a microphone/speakers to do this) in order to not eat up my cell phone minutes.
I DEFINITELY tested Google Voice before using it with parents, and when you call with it using your cell phone, it does show your Google Voice number. You just have to place the call from your computer. Google Voice will call you and connect you to the number you are calling.
Edit to add: Thanks eggmanandpie and sanityscraps for remembering to point out that Google Voice is only available in the US. Sorry everyone else :(