For me, it started at the Shanghai airport, passing almost effortlessly through immigration and customs, and seeing Jeff Utecht, standing just behind a scattering of people waiting for arrivals from Hong Kong. We walked over to a neatly modern lounge where he enjoyed a delicious looking BLT. I’d already had something made from chicken on the plane, so I enjoyed a Coke Lite.
He talked about his new job and I, about the work I’d done in Hong Kong. I’m not sure where it came from, but we started talking about SMS (Short Message Service), and how people in the U.S. still prefer talking on the phone to txting. Jeff was talking about going home over the summer and how his friends kept asking why he was txting them instead of just calling.
This reminded me of a conversation I’d had with Helen Wong, my Hong Kong host (she was usually introduced as my agent), and how disappointed she was at the turnout of parents for one of the schools I worked in. I’d thought it was a pretty good turnout. She said that they usually sent and SMS out just before such events, as a follow-up to what ever avenues had already been used to make the school’s community aware of an upcoming event. She said that since it had been a holiday weekend, SMS would not have been useful.
But the way that she talked about it, made it pretty clear that for the school, and all of the schools she works with, txting is a heavily relied upon method of connecting with parents. In the U.S., I do not know of any schools that are doing that. I’m sure there are some, and there may be many. But I suspect that it hasn’t occured to many administrators consider SMS as one of the contact items they collect and use. At this point and in most communities, I doubt that there are enough txting parents to make it practical.
This will certainly change as younger parents enter the schooling years, but it ocurred to me, in our efforts to improve communication with the homes and communities of our students, what a powerful thing it might be to extend the conversation of our children’s educations into the pockets of their parents.