Tips to Communicate Academic Progress to Parents

Children in school.

Amanda Richards, Possip’s Reporting Team Lead has generated tips to communicate academic progress to parents!

Parents are interested in how their child is progressing academically. To clarify, many parents feel like their child may not be fully engaged in remote learning or having a hard time transitioning back to in-person learning.  With all the uncertainty that schooling has brought over the past couple of years, parents are looking forward to discussing their child’s current academic standing.

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.  In fact, 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.

How Can We Take What COVID Taught Us and Apply it to In-Person Learning?

1. Over-communicate

Transitioning back to in-person learning may cause students, staff, and parents to experience anxiety. So, they have to readjust. Parents who may have been heavily involved with remote learning may feel less involved if communication isn’t constant. Be sure to validate parent concerns through the transition. In addition, provide extra reassurance to students leaving their homes and stepping back into in-person activities with full force. Provide comfort to students, parents, and staff to ensure their thoughts and concerns are top priority.

2. Prioritize Relationships

That feeling of being constantly around others may be overwhelming for students and teachers. Building relationships virtually through a computer was a difficult time for many. With that being said, in-person learning is opening up a new door to creating stronger relationships in the classroom. Create discussions and get to know each and every student. Additionally, create a progression of relationship-building from digital activities to more interactive activities to provide students with plenty of opportunities and time to readjust.

3. Create Routines

Lack of routine was a large factor for students during the pandemic. Students need predictability within routine to help create a sense of normalcy and stability in person. With creating new routines, try implementing practices from remote learning that creates a familiar atmosphere. Also, be flexible with your routine, but ensure the students know what to expect on a daily basis.

4. Alleviate Pressure

You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be present. Many times, your schedule will not go as planned and that is okay. Students, teachers, and communities want life to feel “normal” again, but it takes time and practice. Be realistic in your expectations, and be patient with yourself!

Reach out to amanda@possip.com for more tips on communicate academic progress to parents!