Elementary school teachers at P.S. 036 Margaret Douglas are embracing KiNVO messaging to step up their communication with families. Check out how these three educators at this Morningside Heights K-6 school are ensuring their students’ families stay informed and engaged.

Maureen Donohue, who wrapped up her first year at Margaret Douglas after three years teaching in the South Bronx, appreciates that KiNVO keeps parents in the loop. “I was always pretty good at sending home letters,” Maureen says,” but it’s great for those parents who are so busy they don’t have time to look through their child’s folder.”

Messages are especially handy when her students forget to bring home their behavior charts, since a quick text reveals to parents how their child did that day. “Communication via KiNVO is more consistent,” notes Donohue, who teaches in a third grade self-contained classroom.

If one of the students is doing well or got a great exam grade, I’ll let them know.

Maureen Donohue

With 24 years of teaching under her belt, Kathy Aleman enthusiastically embraced KiNVO when her administration introduced the tool in the fall of 2016. While the first grade teacher enjoys streamlining parent outreach—which involved  “a lot of paperwork and a lot of time that I did not have”—KiNVO’s main draw is that it increases accountability.

She emphasizes that it allows her to keep a “record of communication regarding attendance issues and academics between teachers and parents.” With phone calls, Kathy recounts, there is no guarantee that a parent will pick up or listen to voicemail. Texts, on the other hand, provide “very accessible and easy evidence of communication attempts.”

At the beginning of the year, Kathy explains to families that she will use KiNVO daily and emphasizes the importance of responding. All she requests is a simple “yes, thank you” to show they read the message. That way, she knows she and her families are on the same page. If she senses any confusion or breakdowns in communication, she can scroll through her message history to verify what she and the parent discussed.

SCHOOL/DISTRICT/ORGANIZATION

Margaret Douglas Elementary School

PARTNER SINCE

2015-2016 School Year

KINVOLVED SERVICES

KiNVO, Community Summits

I was always pretty good at sending home letters, but it’s great for those parents who are so busy they don’t have time to look through their child’s folder.

Maureen Donohue

KiNVO has opened up channels of “healthy communication between class and home” that have made a tremendous positive impact on school climate and culture!

Margaret Douglas Elementary School

The ability to easily access accurate contact information also helps kindergarten special education teacher Helen Jason ensure that she is connecting with all of the influencers in her students’ lives. For example, when she learned that one student’s parents lived separately, she updated their numbers so that both the mother and father would receive important class updates.

When she first heard of KiNVO, Helen was a bit wary because she thought that families would have access to her personal phone number. As soon as she learned that wasn’t the case, she became a big fan. “I prefer it 100% compared to calling,” she explains. Unlike phone calls—which may occupy her for an hour and sway off course on tangents—the texts are “to the point, and then you move on to the next.”

Not only are texts more convenient, the P.S. 036 educators say, but parents are more likely to respond. Texting has helped Helen reach parents in critical moments—especially those in which phone calls have failed. She was particularly grateful for KiNVO when a child had an accident and needed a change of clothes. She and her co-teacher spent the morning dialing the child’s mother, to no avail. As soon as they sent a text, the parent responded right away.

Instead of calling home about behavior and attendance “all the time,” which chipped away at time to share positive notes, Maureen now sends brief messages throughout the day. Her outreach ranges from reminders about homework to alerts about upcoming Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings.

And, the ease of crafting customized messages means behavior updates are never more than a few clicks away. “If one of the students is doing well or got a great exam grade, I’ll let them know,” says Maureen. “Or if they’re not doing a good job in the classroom, I’ll let the parent know, too. ”

As a result of increasing her touch points with families, some students who faced behavior challenges showed improvement. Parents are now reaching out to ask Maureen, “How was my student today?” She also finds her students make more of an effort to behave positively when they know their teachers and parents are in touch about what happens in the classroom.

Even at a young age, Helen’s kindergarten students are more invested in showing good behavior when they know their parents are just a phone call away. She also says messages home are an easy way to strengthen relationships with parents who are involved in her classroom, like sending a quick thank you note to volunteers.

Kathy recalls that it took a while for parents to catch onto the routine, but once they realized she was using KiNVO consistently, they started to engage regularly as well. Parents will now message her back, for example, to ask that she help their child review a concept.

Across the school, all three educators exclaimed that KiNVO has opened up channels of “healthy communication between class and home” that have made a tremendous positive impact on school climate and culture!