In a nutshell:
--The service is free. Standard text messaging applies, which I guess could be a concern for anyone without unlimited texting.
--It provides one-way text messaging (teacher>student group) to students who sign up for it (also email for students without text-capable phones)
--Cell phone numbers are anonymous. Students never see your cell phone number... you never see their number.
--You can establish up to 10 message distribution groups
To get started, you will need to go to: https://www.remind101.com/
You will need to create an account before you can use the service:
Once your account is created, you will need to add your first class. You can make as many classes as you would like or keep the students together in one class.
The next step is to subscribe to your class so you can start sending messages. You will need a text capable cell phone for this step.
There is a lag time between when you send the message and when your account updates with your subscription. It took about an hour after I sent my initial message for my account to confirm my subscription. This is the same process parents and students will need to follow to subscribe to your class messages.
After you have added a class and subscribed to it, you will be taken to your account dashboard. This is what mine looks like:
Within the red box, you can type new messages for your class and send them instantly or schedule them ahead of time (think about reminders for tests or projects being due, you can schedule reminders in advance!). The green box shows how many people are subscribed to each class. The blue box is a reminder of how to subscribe to this class and has a link to print instructions for parents and students.
I hope this encourages you to try this excellent and free communication tool with your parents and students.