Class Dojo released a new in-app feature today allowing you to message parents, and I need to be honest. My first thought was, “Oh no! What’s going to happen to Remind 101!?” So, for better or worse, most of my thoughts of messaging within the Class Dojo app have focused on how it’s similar to Remind 101. This update makes Class Dojo even more useful as a teacher, but, as it turns out, there are still plenty of differences that also make Remind 101 a go-to app for parent communication. That said, I am definitely edustoked about how easy it is to connect with my classroom parents!
There are two ways to message parents in the Class Dojo app–Direct Messages and Broadcasts. Direct Messages are like sending a text message: it goes to one parent, and they can text back. Broadcasts go out to all parents (think Remind 101). Unlike Remind 101, parents can message back. When a parent replies to a Broadcast, it becomes a Direct Message.
I’ve been beta testing the new Messaging feature for a couple weeks. I’ve found that conversations with parents tend to be focused on behavior. The great thing is that data (aka Dojo points) are at a parent’s finger tips, so my messages tend to explain or elaborate what a parent is already seeing in their Class Dojo stream.
Another small, but significant feature is read receipts. When you want to make sure a parent reads something, this makes it so much easier. Handwritten notes that get lost in backpacks are now a thing of the past.
Having messaging built into the app is this feature’s greatest strength and its greatest weakness. Parents without a smartphone are out of the loop (for now). This is a big reason why I will continue to use Remind 101. When I want a simple way for parents to receive a one-way message, Remind 101 is definitely my preferred platform. But if I want to talk with a parent about a student or get some feedback, Class Dojo now makes it easy to start a conversation.
So far, parents have been stoked to hear more about their kids. Before Class Dojo messaging, I tended to only talk to parents about negative behavior. Now, I can quickly send a message. I’ve found that I’m sharing a lot more positive things about my students that I would without this feature. I’m excited to see that Class Dojo is expanding their features and enabling teachers to keep in touch with parents more easily. I’m looking forward to keeping my parents in the loop and including them on what’s going on in my classroom.
Back when I worked at a recording studio full-time, I had an unexpected opportunity to work on recordings for Christopher Cross‘ live show. I was expecting to meet a washed-up 80s pop star with a falsetto timbre and a lack of musical ability. Instead, I met the best guitar player I’ve ever heard. (To be fair, he does have a higher voice.) I was used to spending about three hours per song per guitar track when recording. Christopher Cross played it perfectly in one take. Unreal talent. Unreal.
At some point in the day, everyone happened to be out of the control room (the place where you click record) except for me and Christopher Cross. So I meekly began, “Um, you’re the best guitar player I’ve ever heard. How do you do it?” Keep in mind two things: 1) I was a guitar major in college and I’m pretty good at it; 2) I never, ever talk to famous people about how/why they’re famous. He’s graciously and quietly replied,
I love the metronome.
THAT’S IT?? That’s the key to playing guitar better than anyone on the planet? After thinking about this for years, and now having taught music to elementary students for three years, I think he’s right. Here’s why.
The most important part of playing music is rhythm (when you actually play the note). If the rhythm is off, everything is off. Playing along with something that has a steady tempo (a recording, keyboard, drum machine, or metronome) is the best way to play your own instrument with a steady tempo.
A metronome simply clicks at a consistent beat. Beginning musicians can usually play along with the cd that came with their book, and emerging musicians often play along with cds to practice. There’s a huge problem with this–it only has one tempo. If that’s too fast, and it will be when you’re learning a song, you never play it correctly. Use a metronome to practice at a slower tempo, and you can slowly and steadily increase the tempo.
There are several options for buying a metronome: use Web Metronome if you’re near a computer, or buy Metronome+ for $2. It is flexible with tons of customization, portable, and well worth the money. I use Metronome+ with my band students, and they can actually play together. It may be completely out of tune, but the rhythm is accurate. As they progress, they will have a solid foundation. In a sense, I’m helping foster a new generation of little Christopher Crosses.