It Takes a Village to Support Student Success—Not Just Technology

Why we’re building a product for schools

Brett Kopf
Jan 27, 2016 · 4 min read
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Last December, right as we were winding things down for the break, the Los Angeles Unified School District received a bomb threat that closed down more than 900 schools. San Francisco is a good few hours away from LA, but the shutdown felt particularly close to home — California is one of the states with the most Remind usage, and a significant number of our teachers live and teach in the area.

In other words, it was scary as hell.

The entire team spent the morning keeping an eye on the stories coming out of Los Angeles: buses stuck in their lots, parents scrambling to make childcare arrangements when they were turned away from school, stranded students anxious about what was happening but also kind of delighted that school had been canceled. And there, in the middle of the mess, were educators who were doing their best to inform and reassure their communities.

During the shutdown, one of our data scientists checked in with a summary of activity on Remind. “Usage in LAUSD skyrocketed by 700% this morning,” he reported. “Interesting. We’re also seeing a lot of two-way messaging that wasn’t happening before.”

“Interesting” was a good word for it. “Whoa” was another one.

We looked into the stats and summarized what we learned in a post on our blog. Tl;dr:

People find a way to reach out to each other, especially in unexpected situations.

This didn’t just apply to class announcements. Teachers told their classes about the shutdown before their schools did, and educators in neighboring districts sent messages to confirm that school would be open as usual. But the increase in two-way messaging activity made sense, too, with teachers who learned about the shutdown from their students and educators who spent the day answering questions from concerned parents.

The shutdown showed the importance of giving educators an effective way to reach students and parents when they need to. And it’s why I believe Remind is in a unique position to support better school communication between principals, teachers, students, and parents.

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Why Effective Communication Really Matters

When my brother David and I started Remind, we spent hours talking to hundreds of teachers and learning from their experiences. That’s a habit we’ve come to value, and it’s one we’ve tried to bake into company culture.

Now that we’ve passed 35 million users, it’s much harder for me to get that one-on-one time with everyone who uses Remind. But we’re still making it a point to listen and learn, and we’ve started hearing more from educators who work at the school and district levels as well as in the classroom.

Here’s a sample of what we’ve heard:

  • Principals have created classes for all staff members — including custodians and crossing guards — to help them feel like part of the school community and mission, even if they’re always on the go.
  • They’ve created different classes for parents, grade levels, and languages spoken at home.
  • And while they’ve used Remind to reach out to their communities about inclement weather and incidents like the LAUSD shutdown, principals also send everyday updates, reminders, and words of encouragement.

I love seeing principals use Remind to strengthen relationships with staff at their schools, especially with decades of research that show the importance of collaboration. It really does take a village to support student success, not just technology. And the stories we’ve heard highlight how improved communication and shared goals help strengthen the support networks around every student.

At the end of the day, everyone wants to see students succeed. Our growth to date has been driven by word-of-mouth, which I think is pretty awesome: If teachers tell other teachers about Remind, it means we’re building a product that makes their lives easier. If teachers tell their principals, assistant principals, or tech leads about Remind, it means we’re building a product that makes a positive impact on an entire community.

There’s real value in the way technology can bring school communities together, and that’s why Remind exists.

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What Remind for Schools Means to Us

From the very beginning, our vision has been to connect every teacher, student, and parent in the world to improve education. Actually getting there means building the best possible messaging app for education, and that includes considering new use cases we learn about from the teachers, principals, and other educators on Remind.

In February, we’ll be launching Remind for Schools — a new product to support school communication. Thousands of principals already use Remind to reach teachers, students, and parents, and there’s a huge opportunity to simplify how schools communicate and help scale the impact educators make in the classroom every day.

As we saw in LAUSD last December, one simple message can bring a classroom, school, and district together. Connecting school communities is a natural step toward achieving Remind’s vision, and I’m so excited for what’s next.

This is the first of many stories on Remind-HQ, so follow us to stay in the loop! There’s some really awesome stuff coming up. (:

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