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Monday, June 20, 2016

Yes, I Remind

Yes, I Remind

I didn’t choose to teach.  Teaching chose me.  And with that, I have always known that my most important partners are my students’ families.  Somehow, in a need to become “Professionals,” we teachers had created a chasm between us and them.  I longed for the connection between home and school that took place during Little House on the Prairie time and I found myself teaching in a Fast Times at Ridgemont High system.

That began to change with my first cell phone.  I was a rebel when I gave parents my personal number.  My fellow teachers were appalled.  They just knew that I would regret it.  And yes, I received calls at weird hours.  But, the unthinkable began to happen.  My parents began to see that I was really willing to do whatever it takes to help their child succeed, and that I really, really cared about their academic success and emotional well-being.  With this revelation, every conversation from then on was predicated on mutual support and understanding.

The natural progression led to me soon receiving text from parents as well as calls.  So, I asked parents if they would like to receive text reminders from me.  I took down their numbers and, even though they still had my number and they knew they could call me any time, I could now easily send the “group”  text reminders.  “Field trip tomorrow. Don’t forget your cold lunch.”  “Our math ISAT is tomorrow morning.  Remember to get a good night sleep and eat a great breakfast.”

As you can imagine, I was once again that crazy teacher, and the other teachers said, “I’ll never give parents my personal number.”  Yes, I got some weird text and learned a lot about my student’s families from pocket dialed calls, but the benefits far outweighed the headaches, for awhile, at least.

Soon, with phone upgrades, came some interesting problems.  First, my new phone would only allow ten phone numbers in each group.  By this time, I often had over 40 numbers in my texting group including: moms, dads, grandparents, and stepparents (I never included students in my groups).  As a result, I would have to copy and paste the text many times to send to everyone.  Then, an even bigger problem raised its ugly head.  Conversations! When text conversations became a feature, I made the early mistake of not turning it off.  Yep, when a parent replied to my mass group text, their reply now went to every one in the group.  What a nightmare!

Enter REMIND!  Remind was a lifesaver.  Parents could opt in.  One text could be sent to all.  I could even schedule delivery.  I can even send to students now.  It was a lifesaver.  Since then, I have looked at other texting options, but Remind remains the simplest, easiest, purest text option available.   Now, I’ve set up our PTA’s Remind account and give presentations on “Parent/School Communication with Mobile Technology” and recommend Remind often.

I now have Remind classes set up for the “Class of 2021” as well as my current “Class of 2022.”  I’ve heard that my “Good luck starting seventh grade tomorrow; you are ready and will do GREAT things” text to last years class meant a lot to both the students and parents.  I can’t wait to send their “Good luck at the high school” and “Congratulations on Graduation; I knew you would do it” texts.

Allen Hancock
Remind Connected Educator