5 Keys to Effective Parent-Teacher Communication in Virtual School
In any school setting, communicating and interacting with teachers is essential for a successful school year. Among other things, teachers can assist parents in identifying their student’s areas of weakness, provide extra help, and offer suggestions for improvement.
In a bricks-and-mortar school, parent–teacher conferences are usually held a few times a year to discuss a student’s progress. While virtual schools don’t hold official conferences, teachers regularly check in with families, and parents can also reach out whenever they need to through email, message boards, or a phone call. Online teachers are always eager to help in any way they can. At Connections Academy, they make at least three real-time contacts with parents or Learning Coaches each school year—whether this is done through a phone conversation or a face-to-face meeting.
As you and your family get back into the daily school routine, consider the following suggestions to help you prepare for frequent parent-teacher communication throughout the year!
Make a list of questions.
If any general questions or concerns come up, make sure to write them down. It will be easier to give your student’s teacher an update if you already have a list of topics to discuss. Connections Academy teachers conduct welcome calls at the beginning of the year to introduce themselves and get things started—a great opportunity for parents to address issues early, before diving into the school year. A list will also help you to feel more prepared and ready for the conversation!
Set a goal.
Don’t feel like you need to address every single issue on your list during the first conversation or meeting. You’ll have plenty of other opportunities to talk to the teacher. Determine one major thing that you want to accomplish. For example, perhaps you want to get the teacher’s input on how to improve the student’s memorization skills. Setting a goal will allow the discussion to be much more useful for both you and the teacher.
Talk to your student.
It’s important to maintain an open dialogue with your student to get more insight into his or her academic progress. Even though you can—and should—observe and monitor him or her on a weekly basis, having a one-on-one chat will likely bring things up that you overlooked or didn’t realize before. You can ask questions to ensure that the two of you have a productive conversation, such as, “Is there anything you’re struggling with right now?”, “Are you getting the hang of things?”, or “Do you need extra help?” You can the share these discussions with your student’s teacher and work together to tackle each problem.
Review what your student has learned each week.
Take some time at the end of each school week to go over what your student has learned, as it will help you to evaluate whether or not he or she understands the concepts being taught. It’s one thing for students to say they understand, but it’s another for them to able to prove it. If your student isn’t able to tell you at least one thing that he or she has learned, you’ll know what to focus on during your next conversation with the teacher. These weekly reviews will also help your child remember the material for academic assessments that occur during the year. At Connections Academy, teachers conduct curriculum-based assessments (CBAs)—an assessment for students consisting of comprehension or critical-thinking questions—throughout the year to gauge the student’s comprehension of the material.
Provide specific examples.
Try to be as specific as possible when you talk to your student’s teacher. The more specific you are, the better the teacher will be able to help. Instead of saying something general such as, “She’s having some trouble with math,” give a concrete example and reference specific tests, papers, or projects. For instance, you can say, “She struggled with last week’s assignment, particularly section 2. She doesn’t understand how to solve fractions.” One of the benefits of virtual school is that teachers are able to personalize the learning experience to fit the student’s learning style and needs!
You can have positive, beneficial interactions with your student’s teacher this school year by preparing ahead of time and communicating with your student! What are some ways you prepare to have productive parent-teacher relationships? Share with us in the comments.