Tool Review #3 – Remind

Disclaimer: I’ve been using Remind for about a year in my individual classes, but there’s been a big change in how we’re using it this semester at our school that I wanted to review.

Remind solved two huge problems for me: 1. I really do not like talking to parents on the phone; 2. I wanted two way communication with students and still protect my privacy. Last year, I had all of my students sign up and sent home handouts for parents who wanted to join. Students and parents who texted the class code to a specific number would be added to my Remind roster (organized by class). When sending a message I could push it out to the whole list of students and parents, or select an individual. You have the option of opening two way communication for whole classes, but not for individual students, so you have to make a decision about whether or not your class is mature enough to not abuse the privilege (ex. spamming your message inbox). I decided to keep my two way communication open and haven’t had an issue thus far. It’s been the easiest way to get a message out to students after-school since they rarely check their school email and may not be getting notifications from Google Classroom. Remind pops up just like a text message. It’s super slick to hit both students and parents with the same messages so everybody is in the loop.

Teachers can also decide how connected they want to be (respect the work/life balance!). You can turn off two way communication. You can have the app on your phone but turn off notifications. You can have it push to your work email so you don’t get messages at home. Or, just check it in your browser while you’re at work. Our staff members all use Remind differently; it’s important to find a way to make it work naturally in your own class or it’ll just be another tool you sign up for and never use.

So, I started this year all ready to use Remind, codes posted on my website, all my students signed up. It worked great per usual. Then a month of so in, we signed a school-wide contract with Remind. And at first it sounded really good; Remind would take all of the school registration information and make accounts for students and their parent/guardian. Then using our class rosters it would auto-enroll them and they would populate our teacher lists. But it’s never really that easy. What worked so beautifully on the classroom scale was a nightmare to roll-out for the general school population. It was the worst for those of us already using Remind because the tool itself has no flexibility between how it managed individual accounts (and the collected data) and those attached to a contracted school account. I had to merge accounts and start the student phone registration process again (because school-wide Remind only grabbed their school emails, which were useless). Students and parents also had to merge their accounts, and it took hours out of instruction to get everything lined out. So painful.

And yet, I’d still recommend it to all the phone-shy, hyper-connected teachers out there. There is some clear work to be done on their contract transitions, but for individual teachers it’s a life saver.

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