Disincentive the negative. Reinforce the positive. Students are puppies.

From Dan Meyer, a geeky Algebra teacher with a hip downloadable curriculum:

Per the demands of an outdoorsy, running around-type review exercise, I gave my students my cell number two months back. Since then, I have received 23 unsolicited text messages. The first three were overly familiar, the sort you might call pranks, one of which read: > we're your favorite students right. this is [name redacted]. These are the sort you just ignore. Accordingly, the next one read: > text back loser!! The following twenty have each been scholarly, appropriately curious, and sent between a high school math teacher's typical waking hours. They receive immediate response. A recent sample: > Whats the code for the Feltron project on excel, sum… Plus something? Perhaps I dodged a bullet here. I'm pretty sure, though, that a lot of this was bound up in how I presented it: as an adult-type moment, access which they were free to squander if that's how they wanted it, but which (I also told them) I had every reason to believe they'd enjoy responsibly. Disincentive the negative. Reinforce the positive. Students are puppies. I gave my students my cell phone number at the beginning of the year, and I don't think I've had a single michevious text yet. The paradigm is especially great for student accountability: Me: "Why don't you have your homework?" Student: "I didn't get it." Me: "So why didn't you call me?" I make it clear that if I don't pick up or return their call in time, they're off the hook…which means that if they don't call, they have no excuses for not doing their work. The result? High levels of homework turn-in, and zero time negotiating with whiners during homework checks. Next level techniques: - Positive phone calls to parents after the first time a student uses my cell phone or email to get math help. - A Google Voice number, to offer custom greetings to particular callers, transcribe questions to email, and set up straight-to-voicemail time blocks. - Import of student/parent contact info to phone book from beginning-of-the-year surveys. Freaks them out when I address them by name the first time they call me.