Telephone etiquette tips while working from home

This week’s Core 4 tip again stresses the need for excellent phone etiquette while working from home. When you deal with customers on the telephone, your verbal communication skills, particularly your tone, are important. The customer will “see” you through your voice, so whether it is tinged with enthusiasm, sarcasm, boredom, or exhaustion, the customer will hear you—loudly and clearly. Make sure the attitude you convey is a helpful and interesting one that says you are happy to assist with the request.

When you answer your work phone, even from home, you represent Dallas ISD. To the person on the other end of the phone, you are “the district.” You may be the initial contact or the only contact they experience that day. Make it a positive customer experience for everyone with whom you speak.

Suggestions for Core 4 answering the telephone from home

  • Answer the phone promptly
  • Identify your campus/department and then identify yourself; e.g. “ABC Department; this is Kim.”
  • Speak with a smile in your voice. If you smile when speaking on the phone, your tone of voice is more welcoming and friendlier.
  • Show interest in the caller and their concerns.
  • Do not engage in other conversations while you’re picking up the phone.
  • Be of service and offer assistance.
  • Be informed about the district’s services, and personnel. Have basic information readily available for reference.
  • Listen. Take notes to help you remember important details.
  • Make referrals to other people and departments properly.
  • Avoid eating and chewing while you’re on the call. Chewing destroys good diction, not to mention it’s just rude.
  • Consistent positive communication is the key to quality service.

Mark your calendars

Dallas ISD’s Benefits Portal is your information hub for all things benefits-related. Beginning July 15, you can log on to the Dallas ISD Benefits Portal to make a change to your current benefits or enroll in a Flexible Spending Account for 2020-2021. Annual Enrollment ends Aug. 21.

You must re-enroll annually to participate in flexible spending accounts (Health FSA and Dependent Care FSA).  New plan offerings, such as the new Hospital Indemnity plan and the new Critical Illness plan, also require an active election.

New medical plans will be available for staff to choose from, so everyone is encouraged to carefully review current benefits and consider the new plans. If you choose not to enroll or make any changes to your current benefits, we still encourage you visit the Dallas ISD Benefits Portal to review your beneficiary designations and make sure your designations are up to date.

The 2020-2021 Enrollment Guide and benefits website will be available soon.

Last chance: Level up and win

More than 3,000 district teachers have leveled up on their knowledge and skill and gained CPE credit hours through 148 offerings and 112 unique sessions. Two teachers who took their participation to the highest level also won gift cards.

Sarah Perez, a teacher at S.S. Conner Elementary School, and Evan Dewar, a teacher at Martha Turner Reilly Elementary School, each won a $50 gift card donated by Office Depot. There are still opportunities to participate in sessions to earn an entry into weekly drawings for exciting prizes and to unlock access to resources from departments hosting the sessions.

When teachers collaborate and reflect in the Twitter contest (@PDL_DallasISD), they have an opportunity to enter into a weekly grand prize drawing. The more teachers tweet about their Level Up learning using #levelupDallasISD, the more chances they have to win.

In addition, teachers can earn credit hours toward their Texas Education Agency continuing professional education requirements. For the 2020-2021 school year, teachers are not required to attend 21 credit hours of professional development outside their work calendar to meet their contractual obligation. Instead, five professional development days have been built into the teachers’ work calendar.

Summer offerings from Dallas ISD’s departments in Level Up will be entered into the district’s learning management system and maintained on the electronic transcript.

For additional information, contact Professional and Digital Learning at or visit our webpage at

Stretch and relax with free yoga

Dallas ISD staff can join free weekly Mindful Yoga classes hosted virtually by Live Free Yoga thanks to the Social Emotional Learning Department. There will be a total of 10 classes through July—every Friday (except June 19) at 10 a.m., beginning June 12, and at 1 p.m. on Wednesday June 17 and 24 and July 1.

This is your opportunity to include some well-deserved self-care into your summer to help you wind down, rejuvenate and move. Beginners are welcomed. The classes combine movement with breath as well as holding postures to energize, strengthen, lengthen, and balance body and mind. You only need to register once for each set of classes. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the class.


Friday, June 12 • 10 a.m.
Wednesday, June 17 • 1 p.m.
Wednesday, June 24 • 1 p.m.
Friday, June 26 • 10 a.m.
Wednesday, July 1 • 1 p.m.
Friday, July 3 • 10 a.m.
Friday, July 10 • 10 a.m.
Friday, July 17 • 10 a.m.
Friday, July 24 • 10 a.m.
Friday, July 31 • 10 a.m.


Friday registration

Wednesday registration



Core 4 Tip: Practice good phone etiquette

By now, many of us have successfully transitioned home from a place of rest and relaxation at the end of a workday to our workplace. Our homes have been invaded by Zoom meetings, emails and work phone calls, which may make it easy to forget some of the skills that used to come so naturally in the office.

Phone etiquette is just one example. Maintaining a professional and friendly telephone demeanor, keeping an ongoing dialogue, asking appropriate questions, and responding appropriately to customers are important skills to remember when interacting with customers anytime, and especially from home.

Conducting business by telephone requires a different skill set than dealing with people face to face. Something as critical as listening becomes even more important. When customers can’t see you and you can’t see them, what you say and how you say it is key.

Remember they can’t see you, so verbalize what you are doing. Silence, to a customer, can mean different things: Are you still there? What are you doing? Answer the customers silent questions before they ask. For example: “I am reading the notes on my computer screen. It will be just a moment.” Now, the customer knows you are still there, and you are working on the request.

Remember, these days, your home is also where you work. Making these necessary adjustments will help you provide, and excellent customer experience each time you answer your phone

Brought to you by Core 4. Because you make the difference!



Help stop the spread

Dallas ISD employees can do their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases by following simple guidelines as the district transitions back to working in the office.

The virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread through respiratory droplets from those who have few symptoms, no symptoms or are mildly ill. Due to the contagious nature of the virus, staff are asked to follow procedures established in the Education Evolution Central Staff Re-Entry Playbook if they are experiencing symptoms or have been in close contact with someone experiencing symptoms. Employees who are experiencing symptoms should refrain from coming to the office and immediately inform their supervisor for additional guidance.

For more information about specific symptoms, consult the re-entry playbook or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at

If staff develop symptoms of COVID-19 during the workday or are confirmed to have COVID-19, the following steps will be taken to reduce transmission:

  • Separate ill staff from others and send them home.
  • Notify Health Services at (972) 925-3386 and
  • Health Services will contact Custodial Services for Standard Operating Procedures for cleaning/disinfection of ill staff’s desk/workstation.
  • In most cases, the department/facility will not need to be shut down.
  • Health Services will assist with contact tracing to determine other staff that may have been exposed to the virus and will inform staff of possible exposure to the virus while maintaining confidentiality. (See Board Policy DH and Educator Code of Ethics)

For questions regarding leave options if necessary, contact the HCM Benefits Department at (972) 925-4300 or


While informing those affected by a potential exposure, Heath Services will keep details on staff members who develop symptoms or are confirmed to have COVID-19 strictly confidential in accordance with district policy and federal law. Because medical information is protected, staff are reminded to maintain confidentiality at all times and refrain from commenting on instances of possible or confirmed cases.

Appointment scheduling

Dallas ISD staff are encouraged to set appointments between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to avoid increased lobby, hallway, and elevator traffic during employee entry and departure times. This guideline applies to district staff conducting business at central office buildings and non-district visitors.

If visitors do not have appointments, the department will be contacted to determine whether someone is available to assist them. If the specific staff member is not available, visitors may be asked to schedule an appointment or attempt to conduct their business via phone or other means.

Librarian association chooses its champions

This year the Dallas Association of School Librarians recognized two outstanding supporters of Dallas school libraries as Library Champions of the Year— S.S. Conner Elementary School Principal Kiashan King-Corbett and Benjamin Franklin International Exploratory Academy Principal Roger Ceballos.

King is a student-centered, goal-oriented administrator as well as an incredible champion for reading. Her love of reading is such that Conner Elementary librarian created the school’s Principal’s Challenge Reading Contest in her honor. Not only does she promote reading in all she does, she is supportive of the school’s overall Library Program. Some examples of her support include:

  • Leading the creation of partnerships between the library and community organizations, such as Bishop Lynch Volunteers, White Rock Community Church, HIPPY, and Skyline Public Library.
  • Recruiting teachers and staff to further their professional knowledge in reading instruction.
  • Committing to and participating in every Dallas ISD and campus reading event—even donning a Bob the Builder Costume to illustrate “building life-long love of reading.”
  • Supporting district- and network-wide librarian professional development by offering her campus as a site for trainings.

“She is the most supportive principal I have ever worked with in my library career!” said Erica Kennard, Conner Elementary librarian.

Ceballos is a listener, a visionary, a team player, and a problem solver, which in conjunction with his focus on student achievement, make him a champion. He is also an avid supporter of school library programs. Examples of his advocacy for librarians include:

  • Presented at library conferences on the topic of librarians and the benefits they provide to their campuses.
  • Presented “Stronger Together: Librarians & Principals collaborating for Student Success” at the Texas Library Association 2020 Virtual Conference.
  • Collaborated on an article about the positive impact of having a strong principal/librarian partnership.
  • Provided opportunities for collaboration between the librarian and teachers as well as community-wide library programing.

Students, teachers, parents, and others in his school community wrote supportive letters endorsing his commitment to reading, research, technology, collaboration, and much more.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa shares statement on the killing of George Floyd

The nation and our community are reeling in the aftermath of the killing of yet another unarmed black man. The video that showed a white policeman kneeling on George Floyd’s neck until his death is beyond shocking. These images continue to reverberate across the nation, sparking protests and unrest. This clear display of racial hatred has enraged people young and old, black, brown and white. It has led to protests everywhere, including here in Dallas, even amid a global pandemic.

Conscience requires that those in power speak out against racism and prejudice and act to redress them. Our students and families are among those who have taken to the streets of Dallas to protest these ills. We join with them in declaring that the status quo of indiscriminate and violent over policing of minority communities is an affront to human rights that can no longer be accepted.

Dallas has experienced its share of injustice and inequity that has damaged relationships between white, black and brown communities and institutions designed to serve them, including the police and even schools. The scope of this disconnection is a clarion call to our district leadership and the 22,000 teachers and staff to devote ourselves and all available resources to rebuilding this broken trust. In a few short days, Dallas ISD’s Racial Equity Office will launch a series of community conversations that will help redouble efforts to provide services that create agency and change lives. We encourage the community to join us in this dialogue to plan the way forward.

As Dallas ISD continues the work to meet the needs of students with at-home learning, meals, uniforms, social emotional learning and mental health support, I ask the staff, city leaders and all residents of Dallas to really listen to the voices of our young people and their parents and to heed their cry for substantive change. Together we can transform Dallas from a place of haves and have-nots to a community where life-changing opportunity is within reach of every family.