During my first few days of new teacher orientation last year I attended a session about social media for teachers to see what was permissible by my district. At the time, most mainstream social media platforms were not allowed, which was a bit of a downer for me, since I was previously so involved with music education discussions via twitter and various blogs.
Students today are completely involved in social media, maybe not in the same way that adults or professionals interact, but they are present nonetheless. While I completely agree that there are boundaries teachers and students should keep in regards to social media relationships, we should find some safe ways to engage them in the mediums they are comfortable with and use every day.
Enter: Remind. Free text messaging to students and parents that allows teachers to send messages and receive no response!
Remind became much more than means of mass communication for my choral program, it became a tool for engagement.
Here are ### ways I used Remind this year and how I plan to utilize it in years to come:
1. Reminders. This is the obvious one, but it really was a life saver for some students, especially with due dates involving fees or permission slips! Or just showing up to an event. There is no such thing as too few reminders!!
2. Sharing links and content. Whenever I found something on YouTube or a funny meme that I thought they would enjoy, I sent it to them. From Pentatonix videos, recordings of their repertoire, or memes about the “struggles” of choir, it accomplished one of two things:
- Introduced them to new music or genres.
- Modeled excellent singing or performance techniques for familiar pieces.
- Made them think about choir in a “fun” way. (Sometimes we like hearing jokes that only “us choir folk” understand!)
3. Learning/singing outside of the classroom. During the polar vortex, South Carolina managed to miss 5 days of school due to the icy conditions. It was right at the beginning of the second semester, and we were just starting to introduce our spring repertoire. I briefly panicked, because everything choir in our state seems to happen within 3 weeks in February or March, and to lose five days of rehearsal makes a director want to weep a little. So, in hopes of keeping them singing over the 5 snow days, I sent out a Remind message about a Snow Day Cover Video Competition. You can read about it here. This kept choir on their brains, AND kept them singing! I even posted my own.
4. “Just because” moments. Sometimes I would be handed a piece of our spring repertoire at church choir rehearsal and send them a picture of it with witty captions. Other times I just wanted them to know I was thinking of them! On Thanksgiving I sent out, “Happy Thanksgiving, kiddos! Very thankful to make music with you all every day. Have a restful break and eat lots of pie! I AM!” Even classroom inside jokes are great to send. You never know when a kid needs some uplifting, and a random silly message from their teacher could break a smile, even for a second.