One of my favorite solutions is Remind, a free service for teachers that allows messages to be sent out to a group of people known as a ‘class.’
When you get started with Remind, you share your class code and parents and/or students subscribe to your class. The message, once sent, appears as either a text message, app notification (iPhone or Android) or as an email, depending on the option that the subscriber has chosen. A nice feature is that you never see the contact information of the subscriber, and the subscriber never sees yours. I use Remind in my classroom daily. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you going:
- I set up two ‘classes’ for each group that I teach, one for parents and one for students. This way you are able to send messages to just the parents, just the students, or to both.
- I share my class code during “meet the teacher night” and parent-teacher interviews. I print mine on sticky labels and then stick them on their notes or handouts. For the students whose parents don’t attend, I stick the class code in their child’s agenda (planner).
- I use the ‘Stamps’ feature to get students to vote or respond to a message. I send a question out and see which student replies with a check mark, an “X’, a star, or a question mark. This is a quick and easy way to take a poll. I use it with parents as well to see who is attending parent teacher interviews, or who can help with a field trip.
- Remind is launching a new feature this spring that allows you to chat with an individual student or parent. Teachers will be able to start a conversation, set office hours, and pause/resume a ‘Chat’. If you want to tell a parent that their child did poorly on a recent test, or that they got an amazing mark on an assignment, you will be able to begin a chat with that parent and send them an individual message, as well as attach a photo, file, or a ‘Voice Clip’. You can communicate until you have resolved the situation and then close the chat. This one-on-one communication is still safe, because anyone can export a message history at any point and no messages can ever be deleted on Remind. Teachers can also use new reporting tools to help keep Remind a safe environment. All teachers will have the choice to opt-in to ‘Chat’ or continue using one-way announcements.
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