With classrooms mostly closed to visitors, teachers are shouldering the classroom responsibilities parents used to help with. But even with mitigation plans in place, it’s possible for parents to get involved in your classroom.

Mar 02, 2022

An undisputed fact among teachers is that parent/guardian* involvement in the classroom is a key factor in student success. From informal text messaging to volunteering in class, parent engagement can take many different forms.

Yet when the COVID pandemic took hold, the way we “do” school — including the way we involve parents in their child’s education — was forced to evolve. How can we continue involving our students’ families in their education when much of their prior involvement was in-person? Here are five easy ways to get (and keep) your students’ parents involved in your class.

1. Subscribe to an EdTech App

EdTech companies truly saved the day when the changes associated with remote and hybrid learning occurred. For example, ClassDojo is a combined management and communication app that is great for younger classes. It allows teachers to reward positive student behavior with points and to share those successes with parents.

Another similar communication tool is Remind, which allows teachers to send out group messages to entire classes and communicate individually with parents and students.

2. Utilize Zoom for Parent-Teacher Conferences and Check-Ins

The traditional parent-teacher conference — where both parties met inside the school building — was turned on its head with the onset of COVID. Schools compensated by offering video conferences (Zoom, Google Meets, etc.), and many families now prefer this mode of communication.

While in-person conferences require parents to coordinate transportation, work schedules, and childcare coverage, Zoom conferences alleviate these issues, making it an arguably more equitable option that will surely stick around in a post-pandemic world. Teachers can also leverage them for informal check-ins outside of conferences, as that face-to-face time is powerful for building relationships.

3. Encourage Parent Participation in Class Lessons

Collaboration is an important real-world skill and can be practiced with parents via your class lessons. For example, science teachers can assign labs to be completed at home with a partner, such as a parent, sibling, or friend. (As some parents may not be available, there should always be an option for completing it individually.)

Finding opportunities to involve parents in their child’s classwork can be both a bonding experience for parent and child, and a window into their child’s learning experience in your classroom.

4. Establish Contact at the Beginning of the School Year

No teacher wants their first conversation with a parent to be negative, such as calling home about behavior challenges, for example. Establishing relationships with parents at the start of the school year can help you avoid this awkwardness and promote more regular communication/student support throughout the school year.

If you’re an advisor, homeroom teacher, or only have a single class, try setting aside time during the first week of school to call or email each of your students’ parents. For teachers who see more than 30 students per day, try splitting up all students in your grade level among their teachers.

5. Provide Opportunities for Parents

Have you been considering a field trip but need to fundraise? Perhaps you’re seeking a guest speaker? Parents can engage in activities like these without needing to step foot in a school building. For example, they can coordinate with other parents to donate gift cards for a raffle and/or engage the community to purchase tickets.

Remember To Take Care of Yourself, Too

Teaching during a “normal” school year is challenging enough — but teaching during a pandemic presents even more difficult situations. While finding ways to boost parent involvement in the classroom will undoubtedly take some stress off your plate, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself on a daily basis as well. Check out our tips on caring for yourself while teaching in a pandemic.

*For simplicity, this article refers to a child’s legal guardian as a parent; however, it should be noted that the term “parent” is also intended to embrace other types of legal guardians, such as other relative caregivers or non-relative caregivers.

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