The Key for Efficacy in Education: Empowering Teachers

The Key for Efficacy in Education: Empowering Teachers


I grew up as that kid — the motivated, but discouraged, student with no confidence, struggling my way through Niles West Junior High. Every day, my classmates would stay in our “regular” room, while I had to leave and go to a special needs classroom. My teacher, Mrs. Whitefield, knew that meant I faced a lonely walk down the school’s hallways, so she would come and meet me. In addition to teaching me how to manage my ADD and dyslexia, she taught me that kindness is paramount, and saw my strengths as well as my weaknesses. Yes, she got me through school, but she also left me with the skills I needed to find my way here. Thanks to Mrs. Whitefield, the seed for Remind was planted.

Starting Remind, a company focused on teachers, meant that I needed to understand the root challenges they were facing in their classrooms. I built relationships with hundreds of educators around the country, like Michael Buist, Cat Flippen, and Adam Bellow — peppering them with questions, listening to them, and “visiting” their classrooms via Skype. Today, we have frequent webinars with our Teacher Advisory Board (or TAB) to hear their feedback on our product roadmap.They teach all over the world, so this feedback is incredibly valuable for us to understand the biggest hurdles teachers are facing across different cultures. Before we build or launch anything new, we also work with a group of teachers, coaches, and administrators who help beta test the product and provide feedback.

During countless Skype conversations with teachers, my brother and I began showing wireframes and iterating on the fly. We wanted to build a product that was intuitive and accessible for users. Based on these Skype sessions, we knew that in order for Remind to truly address a communication gap in schools, we needed to help teachers connect with all students and parents, regardless of what devices they own. That's why teachers can send Announcements from the Remind app and still instantly reach students and parents who don’t have sophisticated smartphones.

We prioritize talking to teachers and hearing about their problems every day. In order to build teacher-empathy even as we scale, every staff member dedicates 1-2 hours per week helping teachers via our Live Chat channel — including the CEO. We are proud that we average 2-hour response times for teacher inquiries.

Our Community Team is constantly hosting teacher events at our offices, and supporting EdCamps or TeachMeets around the world. Our marketing team also measures teacher satisfaction. We not only measure customer satisfaction, but we also seek to understand to what extent Remind empowers teachers to make an impact on students. So far, 81 percent of teachers surveyed say that Remind has positively impacted their teaching, and we are looking to improve this number with our commitment to “teacher-obsession.”

Remind exists to improve communication among teachers, students and parents. So while we do issue surveys and use data to measure impact and engagement, we have a belief in the power of conversations (we are a messaging app, after all). Every piece of feedback, suggestion, or experience that teachers share with us is considered before each product update. Because if we deliver a product that is fundamentally useful, we can keep students engaged. Maybe then, we can lower the U.S. dropout rate that now stands at 8,300 high school students every day.

Brett Kopf is the CEO and co-founder of Remind. 

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