What is BAND?
If you’re the advisor or coach for a student club, team, or group, BAND will help you keep the band together, so to speak. BAND is a free app (it also has a website, but seems to have been designed for mobile use) “designed with groups in mind.” The app isn’t as polished as I’d like (note: I am a UI snob), but it provides just about anything I’ve needed to facilitate communication to, from, and with members of student groups.
Why BAND Works for School Groups
Having the opportunity to serve as the advisor for a variety of clubs and groups has absolutely been one of the highlights of my work in a middle school. I started up the GSA my first year in the building, much to the relief of myself (whose middle school experience would have been much improved with a GSA) and the queer kids and their allies who quickly flocked to our newly established safe space. I briefly established a Writers’ Club with the help of some other teachers. Eventually, I started our video announcements show with the help of my incredible crews of students over the years.
Getting these kinds of groups up and running can be a challenge for sure, particularly if they are intended to be student-run. Balancing the need for some planning and structure with the inspiration and freedom students need in order to take ownership of their groups can be tricky, but it’s possible. One aspect of overseeing these groups that kept coming up, again and again, was how to keep everyone informed. Obviously, that’s pretty easy if your members show up to every meeting, remember everything discussed, and come prepared for the next meetings. If that sounds likely, you probably haven’t spent much time in a middle school. 🙃 For most of these groups, I had a core group of kids who attended regularly, stayed on top of whatever we were discussing or working on, and kicked ass when it came to getting stuff done.
Members can share information or announcements, events, media, surveys, to-do lists, and even attach attendance or a quiz to a post on the Community Board feed.
But there are always kids who show up only sporadically, whether because of conflicting activities, forgetfulness, waning interest, or something else, it became challenging to keep everyone on the same page. Over the years, we tried a number of potential solutions. Email, a Schoology Group, a Discord server, and even a Slack workspace. I had kids on GroupMe, Cel.ly, Remind, and probably a handful of other tools I’ve forgotten about entirely. Some of these were incredibly effective–Slack and Discord, especially. But pretty quickly with those, we ran into issues with accessibility through the school’s filtering system or restrictions for students under 13 due to COPPA. Things like GroupMe and Cel.ly (RIP) really only worked effectively if students had a cell phone (spoiler alert: not all do!). Email and Schoology depended entirely on how likely it was that kids would actually check those sites, and Remind didn’t have options that would allow for communication between all group members.
Finally, I found BAND.
What BAND Does for Teams
Members can share information or announcements, events, media, surveys, to-do lists, and even attach attendance or a quiz to a post on the Community Board feed. It’s a great way to keep everyone informed as to what’s going on, what to bring to the next meeting, or to generate ideas for an upcoming activity.
Need a little more active participation? Turn on the customizable chat rooms, or enable chat between members. Get your leadership team talking in one room, students working on a poster designs in another, and DM that one kid who CAN’T forget their permission slip for the field trip next week.
As a group admin, you can easily customize member access to these various tools. I like for students to be as involved as possible in running their clubs and groups, so I set most of the options for communication (chat, posting, etc.) to be available (without requiring approval) for all members. If you have younger users or encounter inappropriate use, you can always restrict access to specific tools by user role or by customizable subgroups.
I’m still discovering options and features after using it off and on for a few years. BAND has also created a Band Guide as a Band, which is a fantastic way for users to learn about how to use the app while browsing through actual examples of its use.
If you’re looking for a way to keep your team, club, group, or even classroom informed, engaged, and interested, click the buttons below to download the app (iOS/Android) or head to the website.