The Fall semester had its share of growing pains. Educators discovered they had extremely limited control over remote student environments. Moreover, parents found themselves in the front seats of classrooms as witnesses and participants in the day’s lessons. For many parents and teachers this has led to a strained parent-teacher relationship. Luckily, your parent-teacher group can step in and help improve this new school dynamic. The first step to improving the distance learning parent-teacher relationship is understanding the difficulties of the situation.
Difficulties for Educators Teaching Remote Students
One of the most common issues in remote learning has been the webcam. Virtual students who turned off their camera or didn’t have a webcam left teachers unable to tell if they were engaged and paying attention or if they were distracted, left the room, or fell asleep during class.
Difficulties for Remote Student Parents
Educators and students weren’t the only ones having difficulties. Parents, now at home and witness to their child’s education firsthand, sometimes found they did not agree on the educator’s content, instruction method, or disciplinary means. This sometimes manifested as parents interrupting class, distracting students, undermining educator authority in front of students, and even providing over-the-shoulder aid to their student during class.
How Your Parent-Teacher Group Can Help
Your parent-teacher group can be the bridge between parents and teachers. AIM has put together a few parent-teacher organization ideas how you can enhance the distance learning relationships between school teachers and parents.
How Parent-Teacher Groups Can Help Teachers
First, realize and keep in mind this dynamic is all new to educators. Many are dealing with remote students and their parents, whom they’ve not had the opportunity to build face-to-face connections with. The impersonal feeling of the situation can have participants feeling less empathetic to each other’s struggles. You can help remind teachers and parents that they’re dealing with people with their own struggles of the situation. Teachers often have the added difficulty of overseeing a physical classroom of students alongside distance learners, dividing their attention. More than anything, educators need a little care, understanding, and some flexibility. They’re trying their best to jury-rig a solution to make this all work.
Your parent-teacher group can host one or more supplementary parent teacher nights. This can help create that face-to-face interaction between educators and parents that is crucial to building their relationship. A parent teacher night can help get both parties on the same page and develop a plan for student success.
Another way your parent-teacher group can help teachers is by working with the faculty in your PTA or PTO meeting to develop guidelines for how at-home parents should behave during school time. Ideas include formalizing the parent’s education responsibility, such as keeping virtual students in attendance and attentive during class time. Work with educators to create boundaries for parents. For example, curriculum content and instruction method being the sole responsibility of the teacher. At-home parents should be quiet observers of their remote student’s class, not active participants.
To minimize distractions you might suggest parents should only interrupt class in the case of an emergency. Any issues, discussion, or constructive criticism a parent has should be brought up with the teacher privately, outside of class.
Parent-Teacher Groups Can Help Create a Feedback Avenue
Parents wanting to share their ideas, concerns, and other input should not be ignored. They do require a line of communication with educators. Your parent-teacher group should work with faculty in your PTA/PTO meetings to develop opportunities for one-on-one, parent-teacher interactions, reminiscent of a university professor’s open office hours. These interactions should stay positive by emphasizing coordination, mutual encouragement, and the promotion of student education and growth. What your teachers and parent-teacher group wants to avoid is a free pass for parents to complain or harass teachers.
Parent Tips for Distance Learning Success
The current education situation is difficult on parents as well. Many parents, now find themselves at home with their school-age children and serving a more active and direct role in their student’s education. Here are some tips your parent-teacher group can share with the school’s parents to help make the situation a little smoother.
Create a Structured Learn-at-Home Environment
For parent and child sanity, create a structured school day routine at home. This helps reduce the chaos factor for parents and primes students’ reception to learning. Another way to improve stability for virtual students is by creating a dedicated learning area in the home, free of distractions. Your group can help by sharing tips to develop a learning corner at home. Having a structured space and schedule will help create stability for parents and remote students that will improve their academic performance at home.
Emphasize How Parents Can Help Students
Parents interrupting class or over-the-shoulder helping students on exams is what we want to avoid. But, that doesn’t mean parents have to be hands off when it comes to their student’s education. One way is by helping students take brain breaks at home. Focusing on schoolwork at home takes more energy than the deliberate education environment of school. Encouraging students to take structured breaks between classes can help them keep their motivation and focus up throughout the day. You can even add a rewards system to help encourage good study habits in your student.
Another good habit parents can help student build is prioritizing school assignments. Prioritizing is a skill children will need for the rest of their life. Parents can help students build good habits and help them prevent falling prey to a habit of stressful procrastination and last-minute cramming.
Remote-Student Parents Need Understanding Too
These are uncharted waters for everyone involved. Many parents are stressed out over work, home, and now, school. Missteps are going to happen along the way, but it’s important we remember these are human beings on our digital screens and they are doing their best to make the situation work.
Protect Your PTA/PTO with AIM Insurance Coverage
AIM offers specialty insurance coverage customized to parent-teacher group needs. We are the national leader and the largest writer of PTA’s, PTO’s and Booster clubs, currently insuring more than 23,000 groups across all 50 states. Contact AIM to determine what your coverage needs are for the 2021 Spring semester.
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The new remote-events/meetings structure is difficult and often frustrating for those involved. With tensions elevated there’s more opportunity for someone to say the wrong thing or interpret something the wrong way. Protect your parent-teacher group and officers from misleading statements, misrepresentation, and more with Directors and Officers Liability Coverage from AIM.