“Does it work?” one of my children asked.
“Yes, it’s plugged into the phone jack, of course it will work,” their grandmother responded.
“How do I use it?” they sat wide eyed. “Well, you put your finger in the hole of the first number you want to dial and pull it down until it stops, do that with every number until the call goes through.” she explained.
“Can I try it?!?” they wanted to know.
This conversation happened last month between my three Middle School children and their grandmother. She happens to keep an “old fashioned” rotary phone plugged in. It’s funny to think a generation not only has never “used” one of these, they can’t recall seeing it before much less it existing in their home. There was a time when getting in touch with students was as simple as seeing them in person or picking up a phone… that was attached to a cord of some kind. Not so any more. In person is still the BEST way to communicate with a student or their parent. However, there are times when we must track them down by other means. If I want to “know” what’s going on in their lives I have to use different methods. I think this is true of the “churched” and “unchurched” crowd.
It may seem like an oversimplified list, however to be in the know of my students I literally have to use ALL of the following methods:
The “Old” Faithfuls
Phones and email still remain key ways to communicate. I have one student who loses their phone often, but always checks emails. Another student will only text me. Now with talk to text options on smart phones, conversations are made easy. There are times when I just need to hear their voice. I always make sure to know if they still have a landline, and who answers it. These are always are starting places in the dance for communication.
My students may ask if you have an account on “The Book.” (It’s what some of my youth call it.) Sometimes this is the best way to get a message to a student, or a simple reminder on their home page. Starting a youth group page, or events page for trips is usually the easiest place to get all of your students to check and be held accountable.
“Kik” is a texting app that can be added onto a smart phone, ipod or tablet. The reality is not all of my students have a phone, or their phone service is turned off from time to time. This texting app allows you to talk to friends as long as you have “wifi.” Recently, I had a student with no phone, who never checks Facebook or email. We finally determined she had this account and we could get her info she needed.
More and more of my students are either taking down their Facebook pages, or they simply don’t use them. Where they are at right now is Instagram. If a picture is worth a thousand words then this is the place for you to “see” what’s going on in the life of your students.
This may not be true of everyone, however, most of my students currently do not use Twitter. Vine is the up and coming video looping site and Pinterest is where we go to gather information about an idea. However, the truth is if I really want to “talk” I still approach it “old school,” I show up and see them face to face.