Even if teachers don’t have kids, it’s easy to imagine the difficulties that arise with working parents when their kids are learning virtually. I mean even before COVID-19, being a working parent was complex. But now, it can make your head spin. Teachers are doing their absolute best to help parents and students through this difficult time.
Through our Possip pulse checks, we’ve seen endless praise for school teachers and administrators. We’ve also seen some simple suggestions from parents to the school that can make working parents’ lives much more manageable. We wanted to share these ideas with you as you think about what else would support working parents during this time. Here they are:
Have assignments due at 10:00pm (daily) or on Sunday (weekly)
Since assignments do not have to be turned in in-person, giving working parents a few extra hours after the workday is over to check assignments and answer any questions for their child would be extremely helpful.
Have all directions both written and read-aloud for every assignment
Even if you teach high school, record yourself reading the directions for assignments so students can listen to them. Do this for every assignment – it only takes a minute and can be very helpful to students who can have trouble understanding written directions.
Have ONE document with information organized by day
Keeping one master document (like a Google Doc) for your class that you can update as needed will help parents find the information they are looking for. Have everything on that one document (schedule, assignments, login information, upcoming assignments, special requests), and if you send an update via email or Schoology or SeeSaw, also update the google doc. Put in links to school-wide information if possible.
Send a beginning of week and EOD email with assignments due that day and the next day
Since parents can not ask questions in a casual setting, like pick up, communication is key for distance learning. Sending a brief email at the end of each day, especially during the first few weeks of school, will help working parents stay informed and on top of the needs of their students.
Give plenty of lead time for anything needed by parents
Distance learning allows for lots of opportunities for students to engage their learning in real life and asking students to use items around the house, interview people in their house, or use their math skills in cooking are all great ways to get students off screens. However, giving parents AT LEAST one week of lead time before any assignment that needs extra supplies, parent help, or for the student to get items from a room or yard, is very helpful to working parents.
Proactively tell parents and students who to contact and good times to contact you for quick responses
You may not always be near your computer or phone, so it would help parents to proactively communicate to let them know who they should contact with issues, and the best times to reach those people for questions. This helps build trust with parents and allows them to know when to contact you.
Try to have a teacher on your team provide one evening office hour or class option
We know this may not be possible based on schedules, but if it would actually work well with a teacher schedule who also has children to host evening office hours or classes, it would allow parents to monitor their child during class and be there to support their child with at-home learning.
Record all lessons so kids can re-watch
Repetition is so helpful for students, especially when remote learning is a bit harder to stay fully focused on the lesson than in-person school. This is also extremely helpful for parents with students who have an IEP or where parents aren’t working from home and can’t sit with their child or help them with things they didn’t understand in the lesson.
Parent notification of missed class
Parents get calls from the school when their child misses class or is absent. This is helpful for parents to hold their student accountable to attending at-home class, especially if the parent is not working from home. Send a quick text or email to let parents know if their kids don’t log onto their virtual classroom is a great help to parents.
Add links to calendar invites
It’s difficult for both students and parents to keep all the Zoom links organized. Putting the Zoom link and any other links necessary for the class in the calendar invite will help parents and students stay on top of all the online web links and help you get more on-time attendance to virtual classes.
Building a community for students virtually is something that parents are hoping their child gets during this time. Parents worry about their child feeling isolated or missing out on important social skills. Having one teacher per grade level offer optional lunchtime with kids will help them get some informal social time during at-home learning. Teachers can aim to keep the group no bigger than 10 students. If more than 10 kids sign up, they can ask another teacher to offer optional lunchtime since more than 10 students on a Zoom can feel overwhelming and lead to a less positive social time together.
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