For several years my district used Teleparent as a means for us to stay connected to parents. It took us awhile to get used to Teleparent because of the lack of PD. I guess it still shocks me that with all of the research and studies out there that state the importance of sustained PD if they want teachers to adopt and effectively use technology that districts do not realize the importance of offering on-going PD.
And just when we were getting used to Teleparent, my district switched to School Messenger.
I’m not sure whose opinions where taken in account when making the switch, but I don’t recall any surveys coming out asking us our views on Teleparent and whether we should switch to another company. But the fact remains, the district dropped Teleparent and adopted School Messenger.
Sure, there were a couple of workshops and webinars on School Messenger, but anyone who has been in the classroom knows how hectic the beginning of the school year is. No one has time to attend workshops. For me, I figured webinars were the way to go. But true to form (in my district) the webinars could only be accessed from the school wifi. It makes one wonder, why bother? “They” have made it so difficult for us to learn how to use this tool that I’m sure they are paying a pretty penny for. When I asked why the webinars were only accessible from within the district network, I was told because it was proprietary material. Really? Knowing how to use a technology tool that other districts across the nation are probably using as well is somehow proprietary? Geesh.
Bottom line is…I can’t figure out how to use School Messenger. In fact, my whole department (and quite a few members of our staff) has given up on using that tool. Needless to say, we weren’t as connected to home last year as in years past. But this year my department is ready. We’re going to use Remind 101. No, it doesn’t translate messages into Vietnamese or Spanish like School Messenger, but we’re also not going to be sending long messages either. The purpose of using Remind 101 is to send text messages to students and parents reminding them of important dates, etc. It may not be as “robust” as my district claims School Messenger to be, but at least Remind 101 is intuitive.
We’re very excited to be able to connect to parents using this accessible tool. In this connected world, text messaging is common-place. I think that parents and students will like this kind of communication tool. And better yet? Neither party has to exchange cell phone numbers. Parents and students have to sign up with a code and then we can send them messages from Remind 101. But the best is…yep, there’s an app. Wow. What did we ever do before technology?