Clear parent communication, support essential for remote learning success

Dive Brief:

  • Nearly 50% of parents reported in a Canvas survey struggling to keep their child engaged in remote schoolwork this spring, and 30% said instructions from schools were unclear, according to an EdTech: Focus on K-12 article offering best practices for educators to support parents during remote learning.
  • CDW-G analyst Curtiss Strietelmeier, a former superintendent and teacher, writes that schools should clearly document online learning plans and identify how students will be taught, list frequently asked questions, publish a list of important department contacts, and create tutorial videos to help parents and students understand ed tech tools.
  • The article also suggests districts develop a plan for tackling IT requests, including prioritizing certain tasks and designating roles, and provide teachers with ed tech professional development so they can help parents troubleshoot minor tech issues during remote learning.

Dive Insight:

While strong parent-teacher communication has always been important, it’s now critical since many caregivers feel overwhelmed with the demands of distance learning. Educators must be sure parents understand what is expected of students so they can help support learning strategies from home. One step many teachers have taken is implementing virtual office hours so parents and students know when to reach out for help. 

The issue is even more complicated for parents of English language learners. Many ELL families don’t have access to computers, in which case some use phones to access remote learning. For these families, educators might also have to consider using ed tech communication tools with translation abilities, as many ELL parents may not yet be proficient English speakers.

A consistent schedule will also help parents of ELL students keep their children on track. Rather than bombarding ELL students and their families with emails, for instance, Kentucky teacher Cheri Mann creates a daily spreadsheet and walks students through lessons by phone. She also sends links of assignments by phone to students without access to computers.

Developing strong communication habits now will pay off for the remainder of the year, middle school instructional coach Crystal Frommert writes for Edutopia. Frommert sends each family a personalized note to launch the year positively, a gesture she says will be particularly helpful to build productive relationships with parents in distance learning environments. In addition to a positive comment about the student, she includes the best ways for parents to reach out to her with concerns.

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