School teachers need to communicate with their students and often times their parents as well, which can be a time-consuming process. Traditionally, hand-outs, emails, or sometimes phone calls are the methods teachers used to communicate and share information. However, hand-outs get lost in students’ backpacks, emails get missed in the inbox clutter, and handing out your phone number can cause some unwanted privacy issues. There are teachers that have found a better solution to their communication needs, with apps such as Remind or BAND. These apps could significantly reduce time spent communicating, and your students and parents will also benefit from the clarity in communication these apps provide.
Remind vs. BAND
These are two different apps that are both very capable for classroom communication. Remind is a widely popular app in the educational space. The service aims to increase parental engagement which has been linked to increased student performance. On the other hand, BAND is a relatively unknown service that has recently gained a lot of traction this year amongst teachers. It’s strength is its diverse features that promote two-way communication between teachers, students, and parents which improve clarity and keeps the kids engaged. Let’s compare the two apps and find out which one is the better fit for your classroom.
Point 1. How to Increase Homework Turn-In.
You know the deal. From “My dog ate it.” to all types of elaborate and inventive excuses, you’ve heard them all. However, before we start blaming the students, let’s try to think about the reasons why students might be having trouble completing their homework in the first place. Students are kids and sometimes they lack the focus at the end of the class to clearly note down all the homework written on the board. So, no matter how neatly you write it for them, they will scribble it down to some resemblance and believe they can rely on memory to fill the gaps. But, when they actually get home and look at it, it will only be partial picture of what the homework was. But what if you could provide them with a clear guideline for the homework everyday and even give additional helpful tips or advice along with it? This is exactly what you can do with Remind or BAND and it has shown to improve homework turn-in from students significantly.
With Remind, you can post the homework as an ‘announcement’ and students will receive a notification. When they get home, they can open up Remind and review all the homework in full clarity. However, you should note that there is a 140-character limit for announcements on Remind so you need to keep it short and provide any details in the documents you attach with it. You can also attach photos, videos, and files along with the homework. Keep in mind that students cannot reply or comment directly on the announcement in Remind, if they have any questions they can ask in a 1:1 chat.
With BAND, you can do the same thing and post the homework on the ‘group board’ along with any additional resources in the form of files, images, or videos that would be helpful for the students. The great thing about BAND is that there is no text limit, so you are free to elaborate as much as you want without having to create a separate document. Also, students can ask questions about the homework directly by leaving comments and the teacher can clarify things by replying in the comments. This type of 2-way open interaction can be very productive because the comments you share with the class can be viewed by all the students so they won’t have to ask you the same question.
Point 2. Scheduling Events In Half The Time.
Throughout the school year, there are dozens of important dates — from assignment deadlines, field trips, to mid-term and final exam periods. There are also important events for parents such as the PT conference. In order to get all the parents informed, teachers usually prepare hand-outs with event details and ask the students to provide it to their parents. But as you know, students have more important things on their mind (distractions) that often make them forget to deliver it to their parents. So you also send out emails to the parents hoping they’ll encounter it, and maybe you even call them the day before the conference to try and remind them to come. But with apps like Remind or BAND, your struggles in arrange events with parents is like old news.
With Remind, you can post the event as an announcement and it will be delivered to all the parents, and even if they don’t have a smartphone they can receive it via SMS or email. You can also create a ‘scheduled message’ in advance. For instance, you can set the message to be sent the day before the event as a reminder. If you want to RSVP the parents, although Remind does not have a native RSVP feature, you can use free tools like Google form or JotForm then share the link with the parents.
BAND has an advantage over Remind in the scheduling department because it has a built-in ‘group calendar’ that also has an RSVP feature. This calendar is a shared calendar that the students and parents can view at anytime. For example, you can create an event for the PT conference two weeks in advance. If you want you can also set up an RSVP for the conference. Parents can check the schedule and also respond to your RSVP. Also, a ‘reminder notification’ will be sent to the parents the day before the event. The group calendar is a very useful tool because you can register all the important dates and upcoming events of the semester so your students and parents can always stay informed about the semester’s overall timeline.
Point 3. Your Life is Yours Outside of Office hours.
Have you ever been interrupted with a phone call or a text from students or parents outside your office hours? Once in awhile may be fine but if it happens too often and bothers your life outside the job it’s an issue. Your time at home or with family is just as important as your work, maybe even more. The problem is that with phone calls, texts, and emails, there is no way to limit incoming messages after hours. However, with Remind or BAND, you can set up your office hours and free yourself from interruptions during your personal time. Also, by using these apps you no longer need to provide your phone number to students or parents, which protects your privacy.
With Remind, you can set up your office hours in the app settings and you will not receive messages outside those hours. If parents or students try to contact you after hours, they will see a memo that explains your office hours. Easy as that.
With BAND, you can set the times at which you want to receive notifications. Outside those hours, you will not be bothered with any notifications from comments or messages. Awesome.
The verdict is that both these app can make your life a heck of a lot easier, and may even improve parental engagement and student performance overall. It’s definitely time to consider shifting your strategy when it comes to class communication. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing one of these apps. First, Remind leans more towards 1-way communication whereas BAND is more about 2-way communication. So depending on what style of communication you prefer, you should pick the one that meets your needs. Secondly, scheduling is a bit smoother with BAND which has a built-in group calendar with RSVP. But overall both these apps are great and they will allow you to refrain from providing your phone number to parents or students. However, if you still think phone calls are necessary, note that with BAND you can also make voice calls in the app to a single person or a group. If you want to use voice calling on Remind you have to upgrade to the paid plan.
So what are your thoughts? What do you think is important in class communication? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.