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August 16, 2021 Monday 09:03:33 AM IST

Online Education and Importance of Effective Parent-Teacher Communication

Teacher Insights

Are you one of those teachers who thought classroom learning would resume from August? Well, that hasn’t happened. The coronavirus pandemic has permanently changed some aspects of the education sector. With the Delta variant triggering new cases, it seems online education is here to stay. 

As a teacher or school administrator, you are already aware that working and studying online is challenging.
First, here’s a quick look at problems that most students face during online learning: 

1.Internet connection strength.
2.Lack of access to a desktop or smartphone.
3.The shift from pen-and-paper classroom test to Multiple-Choice Question (MCQ).
4.Boredom or fatigue due to increased exposure to screen.
5.Lack of support at home.
6.Issues concerning fees.
The strain on parent-teacher relationships is enormous. You can resolve some issues, while solutions to others may remain out of your reach. But, effective communication can make things easy for everyone and empower you to fix whatever you can. 

Here are ideas to assist you in taking the conversation ahead:
1.Make a list of crucial contact details before calling parents  

●Keep phone numbers for social workers, counselors, and child-care helplines in your city handy.
●Create a list of NGOs or firms that help parents in financial distress with sponsorship for their child’s education.
●Contact information for public/private institutions that offer subsidies, loans to students for purchasing mobile computer devices.
●Keep a copy for details about fee waivers and other financial assistance schemes introduced by your educational institutions.
●You should also have numbers for healthcare centers in your city that assist with post-COVID19 complications.
●Helpline numbers to get answers for vaccine-related queries. 

2.Draft your thoughts and write talking points 
Debates on vaccination and climate change between Democrats vs. Republican supporters can last for hours. You wouldn’t appreciate it if the conversation moves in an expected direction, would you?
Draft your thoughts; write talking points in advance before the video conference or phone call. Keeping track of your thoughts can be easy if you create a bulleted list of notes. 
You can also share the final version of the list with the student’s family members. If the conversation becomes emotional, the list can help them remember what the call is about.
3.Start the conversation on a positive note 
The coronavirus pandemic has hugely impacted everyone’s life. There is already too much negativity. 
You might have to deliver some not so good news about the trainee’s performance. Of course, negative behavior deserves a consequence. Parents must know what their notorious kid is up to. But, it is always better to soften the blow of sad news. So, open the discussion with positive information. Doing so will ensure parents remain in a better headspace to absorb the bad news. 

4.Know your trainee’s family members and caregivers 
Effective communication is possible only when you and the student’s parents both know each other. Introducing yourself also helps in assuring trainees that you care enough to take an interest in their families. It can help in the long term as you would be able to alert the student’s caregivers in case of an urgent issue. At times, the atmosphere at home affects the trainee’s academic life. In such cases, you can offer support and arrange outside help if you know them well.

5. Acknowledge parents involvement and make them feel valuable
Guardians may have something worthwhile to say to your class.  Consider encouraging them to participate in your educational institution’s virtual meetings for parents. Let guardians share their strengths. Parents are not mandated to do so. And if they are taking the time out to attend such events, it is crucial to acknowledge their involvement.
6.Control the temptation to make assumptions
Perhaps, as a trainer, you may have dealt with a lot of scenarios. However, it is tough to know what the student or parents are going through. So, avoid making assumptions about guardians who appear apathetic or uninvolved in the discussion. False beliefs can ruin potentially good relationships. Show compassion and kindness no matter how difficult it is to do so. 

7.Encourage feedback on digital learning curriculum
Parents face the dilemma of allowing their kids to use a computer or phone app for hours. They wish to feel included in their child’s academic life. Implementing an open-door policy for communication can prove to be an excellent way to address their concerns. Listen to their suggestions and observations. Even trainees may have some feedback on the digital learning curriculum, study materials. It’s best to accept suggestions and forward them to the relevant team. 

8.Use the parent-teacher app to boost engagement 
Every guardian wants to ensure their child is performing well in academics as well as other curricular activities. During the pre-pandemic classroom teaching era, parents could visit the school and interact with trainers. Now classrooms have shifted to desktops and apps. Why not use mobile applications to restore parent-teacher-school administration communication? 

Several public and private schools have already introduced such apps that offer the following benefits: 

1.Parents get access to daily schedules for digital classes, attendance, homework status, assignment & test results.
2.Apps boost parent-student-teacher engagement.
3.It helps in saving time and money.
4.A mobile application can enable parents to share absent notes digitally. 
5.It assists teachers in sharing study materials.

  • Promote the use of discussion forums
    Your schedule may not permit you to remain available to assist students throughout the day. However, they would surely appreciate it if you assign a few minutes to engage with them on discussion forums. 
    Here’s a quick look at discussion board etiquette
    ●Respond to essential questions raised in the posts.
    ●Be encouraging, respectful, and considerate.
    ●Use appropriate language.
    ●Avoid responding to posts that are not in line with forum discussion aims.
    ●Try to keep the feedback general rather than individual.
    ●Initiate conversations before it’s late 
  • Some schools believe in resolving problems only after receiving a call from a parent. Why wait for their complaints? Why not turn proactive in seeking feedback?
    Guardians love to hear great things about their kids. So, why not call them to share something exceptional or to report exemplary behavior? Why contact them only when children misbehave or fail to complete homework? Contacting them with some good news, offering them an olive branch, and then seeking feedback can be a good idea. 

    Bottom Line

    “Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity,” Nat Turner’s quote, has become even more relevant these days. Thankfully, proactiveness, excellent communication strategy, and technology can make things easy for parents, students as well as teachers while operating through virtual mediums.

    Nellie Marteen

    Nellie Marteen is a Professional Content Writer at MyEdu. Nellie holds spectacular skills in the field of software and has been diving into the field for 4 years. She is always curious to know about the latest updates in technology. 

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