When I Created Stronger Student Relationships with Remind...


Last week I was at one of my favorite places in the world: Target. As I was checking out, the cashier and I were discussing how crowded it was because of Back to School shopping and how some schools, including her's, were starting next week. Naturally, I mentioned that I was teacher and starting work in two weeks. Then I got the 'look,' the 'you can't possibly be old enough to be a teacher' look. After a brief second:"Oh, are you starting your first year?" "On no, I'm going into my third."

This conversation, whether fortunately or unfortunately, happens quite frequently because of my young age and my very young appearance. While these conversations are humorous to me, my young age and appearance did affect me in my first two years of teaching, especially with my relationship to my students. Since I could easily go under cover as a high school student, I have always made great efforts to create a clear barrier between the students and myself. Of course I talked with them and could relate to them very easily, but I was always sure to NEVER add them on social media or give out my phone number. I never ever wanted there to be blurred lines or misinterpretations and thankfully it has never happened.

Despite my fear,  I also knew that students would be more engaged if they could interact with their teacher outside of the classroom and I was thrilled when I discovered Remind. In case you aren't aware, Remind (previously Remind 101) is a completely safe way to communicate and remind students outside of the classroom using their beloved cellphones. My favorite part about it is that the students don't have my phone number and I don't have their's, which makes it completely safe and easy to monitor.

At first, Remind allowed me to safely communicate one-way with my students before or after class.

As I gained confidence and experience as a teacher, my fear of my 'youngness' subsided, which ironically occurred around the time that Remind launched a new feature. One thing my students didn't like about Remind was that they could not message or respond back to me. Naturally, Remind responded by launching the Chat feature, which allows teachers to start individually chats with students and/or students to message teachers during set office hours. Even though I was nervous about trying this new feature, I felt I had a strong enough rapport with my students that they wouldn't abuse it. It also helped ease my mind that all chats in Remind are recorded and can be muted by the teacher if necessary. I began using the feature slowly and I gained an instant relationship boost with those students.

After using the Remind Chat Feature, I began forming stronger and deeper bonds with my students. 
Around the time I started using the Remind Chat feature, one student discovered me on Twitter and started following me. Of course more students started to follow me and I felt comfortable with it since I use Twitter for my PLN. These students ended up in my summer school Economics class and suddenly our relationships grew stronger when they could interact with what I was posting online. They were able to see a new side of me outside of the classroom and vic versa.


Then I got offered my dream position at Minarets High School and naturally my heart broke when I thought about leaving my students. I decided that I would allow my former students to follow me on both Instagram and Facebook so we could stay in touch. Within the first day of adding some students, I discovered aspects of my relationships with students I didn't realize before and our bonds grew deeper:

 

This time last year, the thought of using social media with my students was taboo and forbidden, especially with my young age and appearance. Yet with the use of the Remind Chat Feature, I was able to ease into using these tools and realized how much it helped build strong relationships and foster greater engagement. While I will always worry about keeping healthy and safe boundaries with my students, I'm excited to use start using social media as a way to build deeper student-to-teacher relationships at Minarets, who also place a high value of these types of relationships. 


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