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Kinvolved Technology

Building Kinvolved’s Technology with Empathy

By ThoughtsNo Comments

September marks not only the beginning of the school year, but also a time when we share new features with our Kinvolved community.

We’ve listened to every sentiment that you’ve shared–both words of delight and suggestions for improvement.

A 2015 survey of over 100 Kinvolved teachers in NYC showed that use of Kinvolved’s app had a significant positive impact on family engagement, both in terms of quality of communication and frequency of communication. Specifically:

  • 88% of teachers agreed that Kinvolved improved their communication with parents
  • 69% stated that using Kinvolved increased the frequency of parent communication
  • 66% noted that parents were easier to reach using Kinvolved’s text function

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Teachers also reported that they’re seeking:   

  • A better way to track communication efforts within Kinvolved’s app
  • Translated messages to break down language barriers that persist in high needs communities
  • More granular details about attendance data and messaging related to attendance

Kinvolved has listened, and new features include:

  • Pre-translated message templates
  • Improved attendance data page with views of subgroups of students based on attendance trends, and ability to send messages to each subgroup
  • More robust communication tracking system that conveys pulse checks regarding positive and negative messaging

We’re eager to hear what you think of these new features, and what additional features you’d like to see.

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We’re all in this together, with the shared belief that technology tools can be part of a systemic change for our children. We’re starting by messaging families, but we know that each day, with each message, we make a significant impact in the lives of teachers, students, and parents across the nation.

How can we do this better? Email me directly with your feedback or ideas at Alexandra@Kinvolved.com.

Alex is a co-founder of Kinvovled, and serves as Chief Product Officer. Previously, Alex worked in the South Bronx, advocating for and educating families of children with special needs. Alex is a 2012 Education Pioneers Fellow, where she worked with Teach For America and Leadership for Educational Equity developing scalable eLearning platforms. She holds an MPA in Health Policy and Analysis from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service, and a BA in Psychology and minor in Anthropology and Sociology from Lafayette College.

Back to School: Starting Positive

By Tips and ResourcesNo Comments

Back to School: Starting Positive

Starting off the school year right takes thought and intention from both schools and families, and it can make a world of difference for the next 10 months.

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As the summer winds down, teachers are anticipating meeting the new students with whom they’ll spend the year. They’re thinking about the best way to quickly gain the confidence and trust of students and parents who have different backgrounds and expectations for the year ahead.

It’s the role of the families to guide their children through this transition into the fall.  

As a parent of elementary school children, my biggest job right now is to get them excited for school. I’ll let them know I’ve heard their new teachers are superstars. I’ll pique their interest about the new experiences they will have and the new friends they will meet, and give them a window into some of the work they will do by showing them videos or dabbling in relevant projects over the summer.

Approaching this school-family relationship with a positive attitude goes a long way toward setting the right tone for the rest of the school year. Once a positive tone is set, it’s much easier for both sides to accept constructive feedback and make tweaks along the way.

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Alternatively, when the wrong tone is set, there’s a risk children won’t be excited to come to school, parents will struggle to get their children to listen to their teachers, and children won’t be the learning sponges we know they can be.

Starting off right takes thought and intention from both parties, and can make a world of difference for the next 10 months.

Zvia Schoenberg is the VP of Business Development for Kinvolved. Zvia has served in strategy, business, legal and operations roles within K12 education institutions including networks of schools; the NYC school district; and stand-alone schools. Zvia received her JD from the New York University School of Law, and her BA from Washington University in St. Louis. She is fluent in Spanish and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Email Zvia at: zvia@kinvolved.com.

Parent outreach: The hot new trend in boosting student performance! (Part 2 of 3)

By Tips and Resources

Tips for Successful Partnerships with Families, Part II

This is the second part of a three-part series of best practices, written by Michele Narov, Lead Teacher in Newark Public Schools.

Kinvolved’s communication app helps teachers reach parents and other members of students’ support networks to foster relationships. How can teachers make sure these relationships are positive and that the communication app is used to reach full impact?

 Tip #6: Gather all the information before you call.

If you are calling a parent about something that happened when you were not present, or some sort of behavior, consult with your students, and make sure you have all the information beforehand. This is pretty much a no-brainer, but during my first year of teaching I called a parent about a student who was squinting at the board only to learn this child brought glasses to school every day but was leaving them in his backpack. His parent was still happy I called to inform her that her son wasn’t wearing glasses, but a few more probing questions with my student would have given me a better picture of the problem.

Similarly, if I need to call about an ongoing issue between two students, I make sure to gather the full picture of events based on specific accounts from both students so it doesn’t turn into a conversation based on hearsay.

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 Tip #7: Come up with a plan.

A few weeks ago, I had to call the parent of a student in my class who was constantly daydreaming and off task during the beginning of class and introductions to new material, despite constant personal reminders.

Before I called, I spoke with my student and together she and I came up with a plan to move her seat closer to the front of the room, and make sure she filled in her notes at the beginning of class. When I called her mom, I was able to say this is what is happening, and here is how I’m handling it, with a list of expected results her daughter and I had decided on together. Communicating your plan to deal with the issue can help make sure your conversation is productive.

Make sure to ask parents for feedback. Sometimes, if you don’t pose the question, “What are your thoughts on this?” parents won’t volunteer their opinions, or may assume you are not consulting them. They are experts on their children, and often their feedback on your plan to address a behavior can be most vital.

Don’t feel pressure to get back to them about their feedback during the course of the call. It’s okay to say that you would like to consider their comments and get back to them.

Tip #8: Monitor success and report back

Monitor the students’ behavior after your parent phone call. Note specifically what is changing for the student and how they are behaving. Report back to the parent about how their student is doing, even with a quick message or text. This feedback can be a very valuable follow up and encourage the student to continue working hard, especially for younger students who are learning the difference between positive and negative classroom behaviors.

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Tip #9: Ask for feedback on your communication methods

You shouldn’t overwhelm your parents with requests for feedback, but checking in during the middle of the year with a survey on your communication style isn’t much of a demand on their time and can be very useful. Also, during parent teacher conferences, it never hurts to ask parents if there are any updates they would like to receive that they are not receiving already.

Research shows that just because parents can’t always be present in the classroom doesn’t mean they don’t want to be involved. In my classroom, I have found that systematically reaching out to parents has affected my students’ performance data nearly as much as my academic interventions have. How are you making parent communication a priority in your classroom or school program?

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Contributor: Michele Narov was Kinvolved’s Summer Business Development Associate. She was responsible for developing and fostering partnerships with schools, after school programs, and community organizations dedicated to improving student success. Michele is a Teach For America corps member, and serves as a third grade math and science teacher at Camden Street Elementary School in Newark, NJ.

So much data, so little time: Let’s start with the basics.

By Tips and Resources

Blog contribution by Miranda Meyerson, Kinvolved Community Manager

We have an overload of, and perhaps an acute obsession with the data at our disposal. There are a myriad of data points related to education. Educators are likely to experience choice paralysis since there are so many facets of their students’ education that they can analyze. I could spend three days dissecting data from one day’s worth of teaching when I was a history teacher.


We know that teachers’ time is stretched thin, and they cannot do it all. Let’s start with the lowest hanging fruit, the data point that’s easiest to understand: student attendance.  Attendance data is more predictive of graduation than test scores or grades. That is data we have at our disposal every single day.

We at Kinvolved are making attendance data easy to track, understand, and act upon.  Mayor Bloomberg’s Truancy Task Force encouraged schools to use attendance data as an early warning sign of underlying issues. Reviewing attendance data is the smart thing to do. Once a student misses 18 or more days she is “chronically absent”. It indicates that something is wrong, and that child needs some TLC before they fall too far behind.

Kinvolved’s attendance system tells teachers and administrators which students are most at risk, according to their attendance data. We make the data straight forward and easy to understand. Our users and partners can see the most important data points related to attendance immediately . This allows educators and parents to take immediate action and track the results.

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Make an effort to connect with those students whose data indicates they may be in trouble. Keep them coming to school even if that connection has nothing to do with academics. With a chronically absent student, teachers’ priorities should be to connect with and engage students to attend class.

Interventions, such as mentoring, work. They are worth the time investment. It may take years to help a student improve five to six grade levels in reading and math, but minutes to send a text to unsuspecting parents or schedule a meeting with a mentor or counselor to help improve attendance of a chronically absent student. The care an adult shows a student when addressing their attendance matters. Students, despite what they may admit, want their teachers’ approval, and they will show up when a mentor or teachers takes action to make sure they are in school. That improvement in attendance alone can help drive up graduation rates, despite low test scores or low skill levels.

We urge you to use your data wisely, and reach out to those students whose attendance data suggests that they need help. Once kids are in class, the academic progress will follow.


Miranda Meyerson joins Kinvolved as our Community Manager. Miranda is a former educator with 12 years of experience in the classroom. She recently supported Kaplan TechStars, and also works with other education technology companies in New York City. Email Miranda at miranda@kinvolved.com. She loves meeting new educators interested in improving classroom attendance! 

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