These days, schools are getting creative however they can to make this the best year possible. We know there are both big and small problems that schools are getting innovative to solve for. In a study done by RAND, principals discussed several big needs including ways to address the loss of student learning, executing virtual teacher training, and access to technology for students. Teachers talked about a need for ways to motivate and engage students and assess and support students’ social and emotional well-being. Not just that, but the routine things like taking daily attendance or having students follow a schedule creates a big headache for schools these days. These problems have been solved by a few clever ideas from teachers, parents, and administrators., a
We wanted to share some of the big ways – and some small ways – that schools are getting creative to meet the needs of their school community.
1 – Student-Centered Schedules
Schools should share or post the learning schedule that students should be following during remote learning. This will help parents start to create a family schedule, find childcare if needed, and set up a strong learning environment for their child. One great idea we’ve seen is to write that schedule addressing the student. This puts the responsibility on students to be following their schedule and creates the understanding that the school is asking the student to follow this schedule, and not the parent.
During an in-person school year, students of all ages are able to successfully read their daily schedule, know what comes next, and how to be prepared for the next class or subject. Allowing the students to be the “manager” of their time and have the self-management skills to walk themselves through their daily schedule will not only build independence for students, but will help parents who are taking on a lot of extra to-do items during this time. Here is an example of a schedule that is in student-friendly language so children can take more ownership of their learning schedule: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Apaf4xm9tp39SwFZv8RlhDdq08VssF-_WRWXsZuAQ-M/mobilebasic
2 – Sibling Support
As an additional support to parents, some districts are adjusting their schedule to have middle and high school students start later in their virtual schedule. This delay in their start time is to allow the older siblings to help any younger students get set up and ready to start on their virtual class. Allowing this lapse in time on the daily schedule will help parents and also build responsibility and leadership skills in older siblings.
3 – Specials and Enrichment Teachers Helping Contact Families With Attendance Challenges
Taking attendance and increasing the amount of students logging into virtual classrooms or online learning platforms are two major concerns of virtual learning. One of the ideas we heard of is schools using specials teachers, enrichment teachers, or teaching assistants who may not be holding virtual classes daily using their extra time to check in with families that are having attendance challenges.
Schools can take morning huddle or advisory attendance and then these specific teachers will call the absent students to check in on health or other needs. These teachers can also conduct regular check-ins with the families to try to problem solve around barriers or report back to the school administration any needs the family has. Having dedicated staff members for attendance will make helping families and students with barriers more manageable and effective.
4 – Zoom Teacher Trainings and Community Building
Many schools have already started remote summer professional development in preparation for students to arrive. Many schools are starting this training virtually. As a company that facilitates virtual PD for schools, Possip knows that this is an effective method of educator training. Not only can virtual meetings be used for training, but they can also be used for community building and the generation of new, exciting ideas.
Schools are using zoom to train teachers on instructional delivery, executive social-emotional learning curriculum, and other academic and cultural elements of back-to-school training. Utilizing breakout rooms, polling, and the chat features within your PD session will lead to more feelings of connectedness and overall success of the PD. Breakout rooms can also be a fun place to build community and allow teachers to have more intentional conversations or small-group activities with each other.
If you want to discuss more about creating online PDs and virtual training best practices, reach out to email@example.com
5 – Ongoing Parent Feedback Brings New Ideas
Because parents aren’t able to come to the school building to share ideas, feedback, or praise, it’s extremely important now to have systems in place to get ongoing parent feedback. Research has found that two-way communication is important to building dialogue, respect, receptivity, and openness with parents. (Sanders & Harvey, 2000).
Possip is a tool that districts and schools can use to hear from families on a routine basis. Possip is able to give and receive parent communication in over 50 languages and it is an effective way to reach all parents, even ones who don’t have internet connection or the ability to take a web-based survey. Finding a way to create effective two-way communication systems on an ongoing basis empowers and engages parents as equal partners in supporting students to success.
Schools and districts also have systems so they can respond to families and share the feedback they have received. We call this “closing the feedback loop.” Closing the feedback loop builds trust with communities and shows that you heard their feedback and are taking action based on their needs.
We have some templates available for free on our website that you can use to host Virtual Family Meetings.
To learn more about Possip, contact us today.