For most of us this school year, distance learning is a real possibility. With that comes several obstacles that teachers may face. One of them is how to manage parent communication while distance learning. I wanted to help you brainstorm a few ways to effectively communicate with parents so they can stay involved in their students’ education as easily as possible.
1. Use a Facebook Page for Parent Communication While Distance Learning.
This is one of my favorite ways that I would communicate with parents. It was so simple to do. A Facebook page allows you to easily share pictures with parents and show them the learning that is happening in the classroom! (Be sure to send home a permission slip first.)
For students who are distance learning, this could be a great way for parents to connect with each other, see answers to common questions, and share student work casually and for fun. You can also post reminders, due dates, forms needed, etc.
2. Send Out a Calendar or Newsletter.
Now more than ever, a newsletter that parents can have to stay on top of important dates, learning topics, and current information will be crucial. Parent communication during distance learning will need to be clear and detailed.
Check out my Editable Calendar and Newsletter Templates HERE. You can fill it in and then send it as PDF via email. This method would be perfect for distance learning.
Another option is to use a grade level newsletter. This helped us stay on the same page as a grade level and also the task of writing one each week was never on the “to-do list”. This would work well for in-person instruction.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with this, remember you can always just send a weekly email newsletter. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just effective!
3. Use “Remind” for Text Message Communication.
One simple way to communicate with parents is through text messages. Use apps like Remind to schedule and send reminder messages, any changes they need to know about, or updates they might need.
Remind will also let you know that everyone received your message and how many people actually saw the message. It also lets parents text you back through the app. I love the two-way communication option!
4. Keep a Parent Communication Log, Even While Distance Learning.
At the end of the school year, we always have had to turn in a communication log. Mine was simple and just kept me on track. I’m sure you have heard this before: “Build the bank.” I strive to make at least one positive contact for each student during the first two weeks of school starting.
It’s good to reassure the parents of how much you care for their child, are excited about them being in your classroom (physical or virtual), and appreciate them helping their child get back into the routine of school.
It’s nice to be able to look back and see who you have reached out to in a positive manner or who is getting overlooked because they are just that awesome! Grab this FREEBIE here to help you keep track of your contacts made!
5. Be sure parents know how to best reach you when needed.
This might seem simple, but remember that some parents are new to school entirely (kindergarten parents) and some may be new to your particular school. Be sure to clearly state how parents can reach you and when to expect a response.
Include your email address in several places to make it easy for parents to reach you (if email is your best option!). Set a realistic response time that allows you to answer in a timely manner, but also not be responding at 10:00 at night. It’s okay to set healthy boundaries for yourself and your own family.
6. Implement Office Hours Throughout the Week
During the beginning of the year, parents will probably have a ton of questions ranging from simple to complex. Many of these might be difficult to answer easily through email. Consider setting up office hours throughout the week.
Use SignUp Genius to allow parents to sign up for individual, brief meetings with you if they need to chat about something specific to their child or family. You could do a phone or video conference. This will keep the doors of communication open during distance learning.
7. Survey Parents to Find the Best Method of Communication.
You can use a free survey generator like Survey Monkey and poll the parents to learn:
- what do they want to know
- how often do they want to hear from you for routine updates
- what method of communication is best for them (text, email, Facebook, through the learning platform, website, newsletter, etc.)
While you can’t cater to each individual family, maybe you can see what the top two choices of methods of communication are and start there. Will it be perfect? Nope, but you will have a solid start on how the most effective parent communication while distance learning for your classroom.