Roni Habib teaches positive psychology at Gunn High School in Palo Alto and previously taught taught AP Economics, history, and math. The founder of EQSchools and the director of the MERIT Program at Foothill College, he also has two kids of his own.
Roni and Remind go way back. We caught up with him recently at our office to chat about how he uses Remind to connect with his students—and, now, the teachers he trains.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
How did you first hear about Remind?
I first heard about Remind from Diane Main. She was one of Remind’s earliest users, and she gave Brett and David a lot of feedback back in the beginning. I think it was 2010? Could it have been that long ago?
My response was, “What? This exists? Are you kidding me?”
I ended up using it right away. It worked beautifully. Back then, obviously, I couldn’t have one-on-one conversations or group conversations, but it was great to just blast out a message to students.
What were the challenges you faced that made Remind a “What? This exists?” kind of tool?
One of my biggest challenges was getting kids to bring stuff. Like, “Bring this book to school because we’re going to start reading it!” Or “Bring this other thing on our field trip!” Being able to text kids to “bring this” and have them actually bring it to class the next day—that was amazing.
Then, the ability to schedule announcements increased the likelihood of students actually “bringing stuff” by at least 60%.
I’m not joking. That was big time.
As you pointed out, things have changed a lot since you started using Remind. What do you think about the new features introduced since then?
Being able to schedule announcements was huge. That was the first new feature I remember, and it was really powerful. I love the fact that now we can do group conversations and individual chats. I also organize field trips and things like that, so I’ll definitely use Activities when I do my events.
Oh, there’s also attachments! And I love translating messages, too.
How do you use Remind with the teachers you work with?
Well, teachers need reminders, too. But it’s also just a really great tool for getting sh*t done in groups.
For example, we recently planned a mini-conference for MERIT. I sent one of the organizers a quick message saying, “Hey, how are we doing with MERITcon? Are we good? Do you need help?” And three seconds later she sent me a message back saying, “No, we’re good, we’re fine.”
It’s as fast as text messaging or WhatsApp. But I was on my computer at the time, so it was much easier for me to use Remind to check in. Just making sure that everyone was on board.
How have your teachers responded?
They love it.
What I love most about Remind is that it allows me to keep a strong rapport with my kids and with my teachers.
I often schedule a nice message to send, like “You rock, never forget that.” “You’re an amazing human being.” Or even “Hey, take care of yourself.”
Recently, I sent an announcement to my teachers that said “Enjoy your summer, remember to make self-care a top priority, and make sure you do your MERIT assignment.” One person replied, just joking around, “Oh no, am I in trouble?” But then the next person replied with “Thanks for caring about us.”
Isn’t that awesome? Just super cool. Just connecting.