We can all agree that mandatory distance learning has altered education; and there are few who notice that transformation more keenly than parents. With many schools operating on a virtual or hybrid model, parents may feel they have been thrown into the role of educational facilitator. Balancing schoolwork with other demands, parents can feel overwhelmed, out-of-the loop, or completely unprepared.
Here are 3 easy strategies teachers can use to build community for parents. By supporting those who are struggling to adapt, you will ultimately produce positive student outcomes.
Use Digital Organization Tools to Build Parent Community
An effective strategy to organically create a sense of community is to focus on student preparation and organization. Educators can encourage parents to have a dedicated online planner for their student’s school work or a digital task list. Creating a digital notebook template for your students is an innovative idea. Parents can also access it to review what is being covered in class. You could go a step further and designate a parent page within the notebook that includes homework support with tips and notes about student assignments. For additional ideas on how to utilize digital notebooks, sign-up for a Clerisy account to access free Instructional Technology Shorts, including the one on how teachers can help students strengthen their retention skills during distance learning by leveraging the innovative technology of dynamic documents like customizable digital notebooks-plus, find rubrics on how to guide students on what is expected.
Parents and students can review the digital notebooks together to track assignments, due dates, and upcoming projects. Since it’s a dynamic document, teachers can continually add tasks and edit them. This provides a seamless, productive line of communication between teachers, parents and students.
Having a detailed and dedicated digital notebook accomplishes three major things: first, it helps students develop project planning and organization skills. Second, it will help parents keep track of their child’s academic work and priorities. Perhaps most important, it helps the parents feel connected to the teacher and the school’s expectations.
Orchestrate a Parent Support Group
There may be instances that warrant a parent’s need to communicate with their child’s teacher during the school day. Perhaps their Internet dropped during online instruction, or they can’t open an assignment, or the student needs additional time on an assignment. Parents will need to know how to connect with you. Make sure your students’ parents know the best way to reach you, both during school and after hours.
Similarly, suggesting a group chat board for parents to communicate with each other creates another pathway to procure information. Fellow parents can be an additional resource to one another. It can also help to inspire a community among parents. It’s a place where they can share tips for handling the workload, and connect personally with one another.
Schedule Regular Check-Ins
There are two common experiences among families engaged in distance learning, and they are not mutually exclusive. Either everyone within a family is in close proximity to each other constantly, or all family members are so busy that they hardly see each other. Both situations can make it difficult for parents to organically check-in with their kids. Either a check-in doesn’t feel necessary because of shared proximity, or it doesn’t feel possible because of hectic schedules. Educators should encourage parents to do this on a regular basis.
In addition, a heartfelt check in with a parent, especially when students appear to be struggling, can go a long way. At the end of each week, consider who needed additional help or seemed to fall behind, and send them a message.
When you have the mentality that we are all in this together, there is a shared commonality between teachers and parents that can help to build a community of support from both ends. Partnering with parents not only helps your students, it helps the entire community succeed.
Looking for more tips on building community? Check out our blog post on, Building Community For Students: Leveraging Technology To Engage And Motivate During Remote Learning.