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Parents and Teachers: Virtual Collaboration for Student Success

Young girl attending a virtual class

Parents and Teachers: Virtual Collaboration for Student Success

March 16, 2021 • ByBrittany Terrell, MSW

The parent/teacher relationship has always been a critical component to the academic success of students. In the time of COVID-19, distance learning is putting a strain on this connection, and the causes are multifaceted and difficult to navigate. 

According to Washington Post, reasons vary from teacher-related concerns such as parents asking students to complete chores, answering test questions, and background behavior deemed inappropriate for virtual screen. Additionally, parent-related concerns vary from teacher’s tone and directives seeming to be overly abrasive to political conversations that display a teacher’s stance that were viewed as offensive to the parent. 

This article will guide educators and caretakers through a few tips to ensure success and re-establish their partnership in a healthy manner. 

Communicate frequently. 

While teachers continue to work directly with students for virtual learning, parents are taking on the role of educator as well. Keep an open line of communication regarding logistics such as assignments, due dates, behaviors, expectations, and progress. Report card pickup shouldn’t be the only time for discussion. If parents and teachers are open to biweekly formalized check-ins (these can be via video conference or email) that outline the aforementioned areas, then this will be the key to success and accountability for the child. 

Assess needs regularly.

Parents should be intentional about ensuring that all technology and supply needs are maintained and communicating with school administration if there are issues with school-issued devices. The best students are those who are confident and well-prepared for the classroom. Students will disengage if they’re unable to participate fully and unwilling to communicate those needs. Make sure to check your child’s supply corner frequently and replenish as necessary. Educators, be sure to communicate to parents if you have major projects that will incorporate additional supplies or collaboration from caretakers. 

Encourage each other frequently.

While it may be necessary to provide constructive criticism to a parent or educator, please be sure to balance it with encouragement and acknowledgement of their hard work. This is a troubling time for most families; navigating the “new normal” while maintaining their own work and family obligations has become daunting to parents. Celebrate the small victories and acknowledge when there is effort in assisting in their child’s education. For parents, teachers have had to completely revamp how they’ve been accustomed to doing their job for years. During the time of COVID, it has become a thankless position and often criticized intensely by the public. Take the time to show appreciation for the tenacity with words, virtual e-cards, creative gifts (with your child’s help!), and patience when they may be overwhelmed with requests. 

Discuss expectations. 

In order to prevent conflict, discuss expectations in the beginning.  Educators, please let parents (and students) know what you expect during their virtual learning period as it relates to behavior, engagement, participation, camera use and assignment completion timelines. Make sure the students are involved in the expectations process and have them come up with classroom rules as well to encourage accountability and foster a sense of community. Parents, be open to the expectations conversation and give feedback for items you’d like to see or that may be difficult for your family. Additionally, we are living in an era of consistent political discussion and larger conversations that could be deemed insensitive based on your stance or audience. If there are subject areas that you would like to stay off limits or discussed prior to an open forum in your child’s classroom, be prepared to talk openly about expectations. Educators, be sure to include parents when there are major topics that you’d like to discuss that may not be related to your typical content. Both parties should be open and honest in this conversation and flexible to making changes as they see fit. 

Overall, these tips foster support and mutual respect despite the host of challenges under remote learning. The parent can grow a better understanding of how they can best assist with the process and creates opportunity for dialogue while building a sense of community. Involved parents and dedicated teachers are major contributors to the overall success of a student.

References

1. Distance learning is straining parent-teacher relationships Ashley Fetters, November 12, 2020 .

Fetters, A. (2020, November 12). Distance learning is straining parent-teacher relationships. Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/11/12/parent-teacher-relationships-covid/

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