Yesterday, I was at my parents’ house for our Labor Day smorgasbor. My niece Kylie, a high school senior, received a message on her phone during dinner (not an uncommon phenomenon in our family). Our conversation continued as normal while she flipped to her text message screen. “Oh, good,” she said, “I’m glad she reminded us.” Immediately, my ears tuned-in with the topic of today’s blog fresh on my mind. Something told me I was witnessing an example of the exact tool I hoped to share with you for this installment of Tech Tuesday. I decided to be nosey and ask her about the message. She turned the screen my direction and sure enough, I was right! From an unidentified number, the message read, “Don’t forget to bring your ASL II textbook to class tomorrow.”
Signing up is free and easy!
Kylie was eager to tell me all about the ways that her ASL teacher was using this new website, remind101.com. The site is a free tool for educators that allows them to send messages via text to their students through an private number. Privacy is retained on both ends of the message; the student does not have access to the teacher’s private phone number, nor does the teacher know the students! Cha-ching! In addition to texts, students and parents can receive messages through email. I asked her what the class thought of the tool, and she shared that her classmates loved it and wished that all their teachers used it.
Create classes with custom tags. students enroll themselves through text or email. Select which classes will receive the message. You can even tell it when to send the message if you want to schedule them in advance.
I hear a lot of rumbling from colleagues about communication with students. Often times, teachers are “encouraged” to use district-created sites that are burdensome and difficult to maintain to communicate with students and teachers. While ideally, all teacher pages would be networked through the same service, contain the same features, and tools, these sites can be just as difficult for students and parents to access, involving multiple “clicks” and browsing to locate an individual teacher’s page. The reality is that teachers want to get information to their students and students want to be informed. Distributing your pesonal phone number to students, although convenient, may not always be the safest way to maintain communication. Many districts have created privacy policies that prohibit teachers from contacting students through personal numbers or Facebook pages, citing federal privacy laws. (See more about Texas’ student privacy laws and FERPA )
Students feel connected to their teacher when they recieve updates, reminders, and announcements through text or email. The teacher is “speaking their language.” For educators, remind101 allows them to distribute information quickly and safely while complying with privacy laws and policies.
With Open House right around the corner, you might consider setting up your classes on remind101 and invite parents to subscribe. The website provides .PDF handouts with your customized information that can be distributed to parents and students. There is very little work for the teacher when creating classes as students and teachers subscribe themselves to a class using a customized number and code.
When communication is clear, concise, and consistent, students are free to engage in learning rather than becoming bogged in the amount of information and tasks distributed to them over the course of a school day. Parents, too, appreciate the free-flow of information as stakeholders in their child’s education. Remind101 is one of many free services that helps students become task-managers and supports their success.