Today has been a very strange day. I was lucky enough to go to Glasgow to attend the first training in Scotland for school leaders by Paul Dix from Pivotal Education. Paul was as expected; inspiring informative and very entertaining.
But I will talk about that another time. This post is about communication.
In our school we encourage pupils not to use their mobile phones during the day and where possible not to contact their parents unless absolutely necessary. There have been situations where pupils have sent a text, for example, that has caused concern to a parent and led them to phone in, only to discover that perhaps the wrong end of the stick has been got.
There are many times, however, when mobiles can be very useful, such as when we are on a school trip and the bus is due to arrive back early. A quick call home by pupils when we are half an hour away can avoid them having to stand around in a cold car park for half an hour.
Similarly, if a pupil has forgotten PE kit / inhaler/packed lunch, a quick text home can result in the parent dropping it off at reception with no fuss, instead of the pupil having to take 15 minutes out of class to go to the school office and ask them to make a call home etc, etc.
Most pupils use their phones very responsibly during the school day.
Imagine, then, how I felt when I checked my phone during a brief break this morning to see the following message from my daughter, who is also a pupil at my school:
The school’s on fire!!!!!
A hundred reactions and thoughts went through my head, including:
A massive panic about my children, our children, my colleagues.
“Someone has her phone and it is a joke”.
“I am not there so who has the high-vis jacket and is registering staff?”
“It CAN’T be a drill as prelims are on….”
After some messaging back and forth, I established that it was a real fire but that everyone was safe and soon after that school was being evacuated and pupils sent home.
I sent a message to my colleagues but did not call the school: I knew 100% that they would be fully engaged in managing the critical incident and that the last thing they would need would be me tying up their time or phone lines.
And soon emails, tweets and messages appeared from school to re-assure parents.
And I was re-assured.
Driving home tonight I reflected on how many text messages must get sent nowadays in the moments before real tragedies and how they must render loved-ones completely distraught.
Modern communication is fantastic and yet it can also lead us to over- or mis-communicate at times.
Tonight I will put my phone down and give my two a big hug instead.
I know as teenagers they might resist…. but it will tell them everything they need to know.