As an active social media consumer and educational consultant, I have witnessed incredible shifts in education across the country since March. While a global pandemic has required educators to shift to new policies, procedures, and practices, some things remain the same. We know the success of any student is a partnership among the student, the educators, and the family members. Now more than ever, the ways in which we connect with parents or caregivers to build that successful partnership is vital.
In recent months, life has become exceptionally harder for families. Some have self-selected virtual learning for their kids, while others have had no other choice because their district has moved to this format for safety reasons. In order to maintain positive and open lines of communication, the success of learning requires strong leadership.
Tips for School Leaders
As a K–12 administrator, consider the following actions when it comes to interacting with students’ families in this unprecedented time.
1. Conduct focus groups.
Communicate directly with families and students to inquire about their experiences with remote or hybrid learning. Perception is reality, and there’s no better way to gain perspective than by asking the folks involved. Based on your focus groups’ feedback, create a list of positives (what to keep) and a list of opportunities (ways to improve). Share the findings with your teachers and family members. Let the families know you are listening.
2. Host live weekly updates.
Your typical channels of communication from yesteryear are gone. Weekly newsletters that went home, take-home folders for students with information, and meetings are no longer consistently reliable. The main way you can meet with families is to host live weekly updates. Keep the update brief—most people don't like watching long videos. Less is more. Have one or two topics that you want to make your families aware of—perhaps it’s the importance of a routine at home, or maybe it’s how to check students’ progress on assignments.
Offer these videos live and also record them. They become great resources to share both in the moment and in the days to come.
3. Start family intervention early.
One of the challenges I’m hearing over and over again is that remote students are not attending their classes online. At this point in the year, educators are overwhelmed and frustrated. This has been building over the semester, and it’s nearly impossible to solve—at least this semester. January starts a new opportunity.
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