A strong partnership between parents and teachers benefits everyone: teachers better understand the children they are teaching, parents feel at ease about their child’s education and their role in it, and children have a much more positive and effective school experience. With distance learning, the relationship between parents and teachers is especially critical as parents step into a more active role in their children’s education.
Even with the added work and stress of distance learning on all sides, this could be an opportunity to make changes that will benefit future parent-teacher cooperation whether students are in the classroom or learning virtually. Let’s take a look at some things parents and teachers can do to create better relationships and improve each student’s experience with distance learning.
What Teachers Can Do
- Communicate Consistently...and Briefly. Trust between teachers and parents is developed over time through consistent, open communication. Teachers must communicate regularly with parents about important dates, class assignments, student progress, and changes that occur throughout the year. Since many parents are busy trying to juggle work with helping their children do distance learning, keep any phone conversations or Zoom meetings brief and focused.
- Create a FAQ Website or Handout. Have a Frequently Asked Question website or handout available to help answer some of the common questions parents will have. Make sure to include the most essential tips and information that you want all parents to know.
- Keep Virtual Office Hours. Having set online “office hours” or check-in times for parents will give them an opportunity to talk with you about their child’s progress and ask questions about your expectations.
- Keep All Important Information In One Place. This includes schedules, due dates, curriculum, assignments, and any other information you want all parents to have. Keeping this information in one centralized place like a website or Google Drive folder makes it easier for parents to remember where to access the information when they need it.
- Set Realistic Expectations of Students and Parents. Since many parents are also working, it is unrealistic to expect students to be able to do eight hours of schoolwork each day — especially younger students who need more hands-on help from parents. Set students and their parents up for success by creating realistic goals.
- Check In With Parents Regularly. Parents will have the inside scoop on how their children are progressing both academically and emotionally. Without being in the room with your students while they are doing their work, it will be difficult to keep abreast of how they are progressing without parent input. Make time for regular, brief phone calls with parents to assess how things are going.
What Parents Can Do
- Establish Relationships with Teachers Early. To start forming positive, collaborative relationships with your children’s teachers, make an effort to reach out to them at or before the beginning of the school year. A brief phone or Zoom call to discuss expectations and ask questions is a great place to start. Establishing this relationship early on will make it that much easier to come together to solve problems later in the year. Be persistent about maintaining this relationship throughout the year.
- Ask Questions & Share Your Insights. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about curriculum, assignments, your child’s social-emotional learning, where they’re starting the year academically, and so on. You can also request help from teachers in the form of grading rubrics and answer keys so you can keep a gauge on how your children are progressing in their work. Share insights with teachers about how your children are faring both academically and emotionally, since teachers have limited first-hand knowledge of those things right now.
- Be Clear About the Hows & Whens of Communication. Clearly communicate to teachers the best ways and times for them to get a hold of you, and find out from teachers what their preferred method of communication is. Everyone has different preferences and needs, so it’s important to be clear about what does and doesn’t work.
- Have a Dedicated Learning Space for Your Children. It doesn’t have to be a picture-perfect space, but offering kids a dedicated learning space will help them focus. Make sure the space is clean and well-lit, has a good Wi-Fi signal, and is away from toys, games and TV. Utilizing room dividers or tabletop privacy panels to create separation can help limit distraction, especially if the panels are sound-absorbing.
- Set Short-Term Goals. Creating and clearly communicating goals from the beginning will help keep you and your children’s teachers on the same page with each child’s progress. Short-term goals will allow you to more easily make changes if something isn’t working. Discuss goals with teachers to come up with a solid plan to achieve them together.
- Connect with the PTA. Not all parents will have the time to get involved with the P.T.A., but if you can make time for it you should. The P.T.A. offers another layer of support for you and gives you more of a voice in your child’s education.
What Parents and Teachers Can Both Do
One important thing that both parents and teachers can do for each other right now is to offer one another patience and empathy. This is a new experience for everyone, and everyone is working hard to make school happen in these unprecedented circumstances. Assume the best of each other and focus on working together to create a positive school experience for every child.
Whether you are a parent or a teacher, if you are navigating distance learning this year, Versare has several products that could help create separation and sound absorption for your workspace to help you or your children maintain focus. Find these products and more in our online store or give us a call at 800-830-0210.