Especially during a time of crisis, there is not a “one size fits all” solution to parent-teacher communication during COVID-19.
Teachers are diverse people – as are parents. So what may be the perfect amount of communication for one parent might be too much communication for another parent. Similarly, what one teacher may feel is reasonable for communication may not meet a parent’s need for what is reasonable. We understand the complexities of this topic and want to provide some tactical steps for teachers to best communicate with their families during this time.
Tips for Parent-Teacher Communication
Use One Centralized Location for Communication:
Many parents enjoy easily getting their communication via technology, but we’ve seen recently that there has been a trend of parents being overwhelmed with the amount of websites, apps, and messages sent to them. During this time, have one centralized location for parents in your class. A few ways you can get parents easy access to information about their kids in a one-stop-shop include:
- Your District’s parent Portal
- Google Classroom: See what Google Classroom is here (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-classroom/mfhehppjhmmnlfbbopchdfldgimhfhfk?hl=en) and learn how to use it here (https://www.thetechedvocate.org/how-to-use-google-classroom-to-boost-parental-involvement/)
- Class Website https://makemomentsmatter.org/classroom-ideas/communicating-with-parents-teacher-blogs-and-websites/
Let them know when you’re most available:
To build communication routines with parents, make sure to let them know when your best times and methods of communication during COVID-19 school closures. Some teachers publish “office hours” on zoom so parents or students can hop on any time to ask questions. Other teachers prefer to let parents know when they will get the quickest response via email, phone, or text. This allows parents to know they will get quick responses during those times. Whatever method you choose, make sure parents know the best time to reach you at so frustration or mistrust on either end doesn’t occur.
Each teacher can be assigned as a case manager for every family in the school. This cuts down on the number of parents that are in constant communication with teachers. This helps teachers and parents feel less overwhelmed. The case manager is responsible for checking in with each family that is on their caseload every day and supports them with any questions or needs. They are the parent and student’s main point of communication during COVID-19. This allows every family to have one person who has a central point of contact every day and feel comfortable sharing needs with them. This could be done on a school-level basis or even a grade-level basis among teacher teams.
Make a Personal 24 Hour Rule:
One way to improve parent trust and communication is to create a personal deadline and follow it fully. We have found that responding to parents within 24 hours is key to building strong teacher-communication relationships. It is helpful if teachers know they don’t have to immediately respond to the parent’s issue if they feel unprepared- but that sometime within the next 24 hours, they have time to craft a response and follow-up promptly. The 24-hour rule also helps parents trust that teachers will respond to their call/email and get the answers they want.
Newsletter Blurb with Focus on “Meet the Teacher”:
We find parents are sometimes hesitant to reach out to teachers due to a lack of relationship. Research shows that teachers think their parents know them – but parents don’t feel the same level of comfort. To help build relationships – and familiarity – have a weekly “blurb” in the parent newsletter if it’s continuing to go out during this time. The blurb can focus on a different teacher or grade level each week. You can share a quick bio about the teacher and how they are handling remote learning in their classroom. This can also include the best ways to get in touch with them. It is a fun way to build community while doing remote learning and increases parent-teacher communication and understanding of how each teacher is handling the school closures.
Use the Possip Bonus Question:
Schools can use the Possip bonus question to ask parents to “Shout out a teacher with strong parent communication methods.” Once parents respond, trends will appear of teachers who are strong in this area. During the school closures, that teacher could host a virtual PD to staff on effective remote parent-teacher communication during COVID-19. If your school isn’t using Possip, you can also add this as survey parents can take so you can still collect that data.
Check out other Possip blogs and webinars at possip.com/strong-schools