I read about Remind 101 in the spring of 2012, thought it sounded interesting, but trying it out got lost in the daily busyness of teaching. Melanie Seip reminded me about it in August and after looking into it more thoroughly I was excited and decided to use it to improve parent engagement and communication between home and school. I discussed remind 101 with my colleagues at Major Ballachey School and two of them also decided to try it (@TaraMcFarling1, @SusanJEddy). After two weeks we’ve found it to be very useful.

What’s Remind 101? It’s a free service that allow teachers to send out bulk texts (and e-mails) to parents or students from a computer or mobile device. Teachers send a single message and all parents registered to the class on Remind 101 receive it at whatever number or address they’ve registered. Remind 101  allows you to easily and efficiently communicate directly with parents without relying on students to bring home notes or having to make phone calls.

Setting up Remind 101 is painless.  Register for an account and create a class. Each class has a unique code and a phone number (and/or e-mail) that parents or students text to register.  Once parents are registered teachers can logon to Remind 101, write a 140 character message and everyone registered for the class receives the message on their phone (or e-mail, whatever they registered). You can create multiple classes if you choose.

A key feature of the registration system is that no personal information is shared between teachers and parents or students. I don’t know anyone’s phone numbers and they don’t know mine. This is an important safety feature if you’re using Remind 101 to communicate directly with students.

There are lots of different ways teachers can use Remind 101. I mostly send messages about homework, but also use it to remind parents about trip forms or events that are happening in the school or the class. A nice feature is the ability to schedule a message so that the night before I can arrange for parents receive a text in the morning reminding them that we have a trip that day (for example).

Remind 101 is accessible via mobile app so on those night when I rush out of school and remember half way home I needed to send a message it’s easily fixed. My colleague Scott McDonald (@scottymac8899) pointed out that Remind 101 would be useful when teachers are on field trips and you need to tell parents the bus is stuck in traffic and you’ll be late back to school or if you’re at a tournament and want to keep parents informed about the team’s progress.

Some features I’d like to see added to Remind 101:

  • There’s no way for me to register technophobe parents who want to use the service but aren’t sure how to register. It would be nice to have the flexibility to set things up for the odd parent if needed.
  • It would be great to be able to attach pictures to the messages as you can in Twitter
  • I’d like to be able to select parents within the group to receive messages, so that if some students haven’t handed in trip forms I can target those parents with a specific reminder.

Other than that, it’s pretty perfect, and I’m looking forward to a great school year with improved communication with parents thanks to Remind 101

(as you can see I don’t use remind 101 to communicate with students. There’s isn’t much call for that in the junior grades. But it would be very useful for doing that, and I believe that was the original purpose of the service by the developers)