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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 Personalization: Good bye to _________________’s mom or _______________’s dad (Part 3 of 3)

By ThoughtsNo Comments

This is the third 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 #10: Get to know your parents as people.

None of your parents are named _________________’s mom or _______________’s dad. 

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Surprisingly, nobody told me this when I started out, or I would have avoided some awkward dismissal time conversations, when I racked my brain to remember parents’ first and last names. During my second year, I took the time to introduce myself by name, smile at, and learn and remember the names of my parents, and whenever possible also learn little bit about them as people.

For older grades whose parents do not pick them up from school every day, referring to parents by names over a message can still add a very important personal touch. 

Tip #11: Never assume your students and their parents share a last name.

I am always careful to not address parents with the last name of my students and to double-check my parent contact sheets to ensure I am using the correct name. More often than not, my students and their parents do not share the same last name, and some people may be offended by the assumption.

Tip #12: When reporting a positive or negative classroom behavior, be specific and avoid ambiguous qualifiers.

This is such an important tip, and I still hear stories from fellow teachers who fall into the minefield of ambiguity. If you tell a parent, “Your child is off task at school,” they can easily misunderstand what happened. If you tell a parent, “Your child poked the girl sitting next to him with his pencil 3 times during math, and did not complete his worksheet,” you have a shared understanding of events.

This is true for positive calls, too! It sounds so much better to a parent to hear, “Alicia aced her last 3 math exams, and today she helped the student next to her to work out a really difficult problem,” than to hear, “Alicia is doing well in school.”

Tip #13: Only leave voicemails or send texts with positive news.

If I have negative news to report, I want to speak directly with a parent. If I get a voicemail, or send a text, I try to just leave a brief message asking that the parent call me back.

Tip #14: Invite parents into your classroom!

Does your school have career days? Invite your parents! We do parent breakfasts a few times a year. This year, the other third grade teacher hosted all of our parents during the holiday season for a gingerbread making competition with students. It was a really great way to get to know parents and also allow parents to get to know one another.

Tip #15: Offer instructional resources

Your parents want to help their kids, but not all of them know how. Provide them with websites, tip sheets, workbooks, and resources whenever you can. Kinvolved’s Community Managers can provide this directed support.

Tip #16: Find a translator!

Luckily, my school has a bilingual team and paraprofessionals who speak a variety of languages. But if you are a teacher at a school without access to translators, most school districts actually offer translation teams as a resource.

 

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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.

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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.

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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! 

© 2019 Kinvolved™. All Rights Reserved, Kinvolved Inc.

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