How to Communicate Your Student's Needs to New Teachers During Virtual Learning
As the parent of a school-age child, you want to help your child succeed in a virtual learning environment. One step you can take to achieve this goal is to communicate regularly with your child's teacher. Crafting a plan before the start of the school year will provide you with a useful framework that will help ensure that you, your child, and your teacher remain on the same page; consider mapping out a communication plan in three phases.
- Phase One: Before the school year starts
- Phase Two: During the virtual school year
- Phase Three: When abrupt changes occur
Phase One Reach out to your child's teacher before the start of the school year
The path to a positive virtual learning experience begins with communication and information sharing with your child's teacher. Here are four measures you can take before the school year to help set a foundation for a positive experience for your child.
1) Send a short, positive note when you receive the teacher's contact info
Carve out some time to send the teacher a short note telling them that you are pleased to hear that they will be teaching your child in the upcoming year. Keep this initial note short and upbeat, with the key point being that you welcome the opportunity to work with them to help your child learn remotely.
2) At the end of the note, request a short meeting to discuss your child's needs
Before you end your note, let the teacher know that you would like to schedule a short virtual meeting to discuss your child's strengths, weaknesses, and special needs. Give a few specific dates and times you are available and provide your contact details so the teacher can respond to your request.
3) Be prepared for your virtual meeting with the teacher
Keep in mind the teacher will also be fielding calls and meeting with other parents. So it's important to make the best use of the time you have with the teacher. You can do this by preparing a short list of points you wish to cover and sending it to the teacher in advance of your meeting. Then, attach a brief summary of your child's strengths, weaknesses, and special needs. This will allow you to get to the heart of the matter right away.
4) Ask the teacher how he or she prefers to communicate moving forward
Respecting the teacher's time and privacy is very important. Before you end your initial meeting, ask whether the teacher prefers to communicate by phone, Zoom, or another mode of communication. Also ask if the teacher plans to set "virtual office hours" during the school year to devote to discussions with parents. Let the teacher know you will do everything you can to stick to those hours.
Phase Two Maintain regular contact during the virtual school year
With introductions and the initial meeting behind you, it's important to communicate regularly throughout the school year. The best way to do this is to prepare a meeting schedule to ensure that you and the teacher are on the same page regarding your child's progress. Here are some tips to help keep communication flowing:
1) Always use the teacher's preferred mode of communicating
Unless the teacher says, "Oh, you can reach out to me however you'd like...," then try to stick to the teacher's preferred mode of communication. This will facilitate information sharing and you are more likely to receive feedback faster.
2) Do your best to communicate on the dates you and the teacher set
Unless an emergency arises, try to limit your discussions to the meeting dates you and the teacher have agreed upon. If your child is struggling, then ask the teacher about the possibility of increasing the meetings or enlisting the help of a virtual tutor.
3) Always ask if there is anything you can do to help your child
Many teachers have spent years helping children learn at school and at home. They often have helpful suggestions and techniques that can make a world of difference in how a child responds to the learning process.
Phase Three Communicate with your child's teacher if abrupt changes occur
As if adjusting to virtual learning is not challenging enough, there is always the possibility of sudden changes during the school year. When abrupt changes occur, here are some steps that will help ensure your child stays on track with their school work as much as possible:
1) Let your teacher know how your child is adjusting to the change
Sharing information with your child's teacher is critical - especially during times of sudden change. Make a note of any difficulties your child has adjusting to new changes and ask the teacher if they have any suggestions to help your student acclimate to those changes.
2) Work with the teacher to create a makeshift backup plan
Should your child's teacher suddenly become ill or be unable to teach your child virtually, you will need to swing into action. This is much easier if you have a basic plan in place to ensure that your child continues to learn. For example, you can create a rotation of "volunteer teachers" comprised of parents of students in your child's classroom who can fill in if illness or a conflict occurs.
3) Do your best to maintain as much structure as possible
Some children do not respond well to sudden changes, particularly those that affect their daily routines. While it might be impossible to predict sudden changes that may unfold during the school year, you can do your best to keep every other aspect of your child's schedule intact until relative normalcy resumes.
The Key to a Successful Virtual Learning Environment
Learning from the virtual classroom is not always easy for children - especially if they have attention deficits or other learning challenges. But regular communication with your child's teacher can be a difference maker in your child's experience in the virtual classroom. By following the tips above, you can prepare your child, your child's teacher, and yourself for any challenges that may unfold during the school year.
Our Teachers are Committed to Continually Improving
We invite you to contact us at Kentwood Preparatory School to learn about the many special steps we take to help our students succeed while learning from home. Our teachers are committed to continually improving their remote instructional skills and we look forward to helping your child thrive in a virtual learning environment!