This year more than ever, parents are interested in how their child is progressing academically. Many parents feel like their child may not be fully engaged in remote learning or challenged as much as during in-person school. And even with students learning in the next room from parents in many households, we’re hearing that parents actually feel less in tune with how and what their child is doing in school. With all the uncertainty that schooling has brought on this year, parents are looking forward to discussing their child’s current academic standing.
School in itself has changed so much this year. And parent communication has to change in just as many innovative ways. Here are some tips we have on how to communicate academic progress to parents virtually:
1. Virtual Parent Teacher Conferences
Planning for these virtual conferences will be a lot different than when parents and teachers meet in person. Possip wrote a blog all about this topic. We also shared free resources for parent teacher conference agendas. Check it out here to get tips on how to plan logistics and execute strong virtual parent teacher conferences.
2. Supporting Parent Access to Online Gradebooks or Parent Portals
In this new world of high-tech schooling, not all parents are equally caught up to speed. Learning new skills online isn’t always an easy task, and some parents may not even know how to log-in to a virtual gradebook or parent portal. We recommend first making sure all parents know how to log-in to the gradebook website your campus uses, have their login name and password, and understand where to find their child’s grades.
A few ways to do this include:
- Sending out a parent mailer with information on how to successfully check student’s grades. In that mailer, there could be a phone number to call if parents need their log-in information.
- Publish a monthly parent newsletter all about the topic of understanding your child’s academic progress and giving tips on what parents could be doing to stay in touch with their child’s academic growth.
- If mailers aren’t a great option for your school due to time and resources, you could also send out a text message, like a Possip Bonus Question, to ask parents if they know how to log-in to the gradebook or if they want a staff member to reach out to assist.
Online gradebooks are such an important resource for parents to understand how their child is doing, but it’s only good if parents know how to access it.
3. Send Home “Pandemic Progress Reports”
Schooling has been unique this year, and our progress reports should also be adapted to the context of pandemic schooling. Instead of just focusing on grades in a progress report, focus on other important metrics for students during this time. A few topics we think would be beneficial to discuss in a “pandemic progress report” include:
- IEP goals
- Attendance and punctuality
- Motivation and attitude
- Participation in class
- Social-emotional indicators
- Willingness to seek out help when needed
- Work completion
If your school has important school cultural values, for example the Learner Profile in an IB school, teachers could comment on the child’s progress in those more qualitative areas of character building. Check out a FREE Possip downloadable of a potential “Pandemic Progress Report” you can use with families.
4. Offer Flexible Times for Scheduling Parent-Teacher Meetings/Calls
Some of our Possip partners schools had school wide virtual parent teacher conferences this past week. We heard they went well, but also heard that some parents just couldn’t make any of the times that were given by the school. Some parents felt disappointed to not get a teacher conference because of scheduling constraints.
This is a pretty simple tip, but just allowing flexibility in the times that parents are able to connect with teachers is important. We know that parents have packed schedules and are taking on extra caretaking duties, work from home chaos, and many other responsibilities. We also know that teachers have to do the same. The flexibility may also help teachers, especially those who are also parents. Maybe post-bedtime for the kids works best for a parent-teacher conference. Maybe early mornings work best. Or maybe another creative solution can be made between parents and teachers. This time in general is unusual (to say the least), so let’s think of unusual (but effective) solutions for how we update parents on their child’s progress.
Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more tips on how to communicate with parents!