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World Teachers’ Day: Top tips for using tech to engage with parents

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To celebrate World Teachers’ Day, Parent Zone writers - and former teachers - Yusuf Tamanna and Marjun Ziarati offer their tips on how to use technology to engage with parents

With teachers rushing around all day and responsible for so many young people, it's sometimes difficult to find time to reach out to parents.

Equally, many parents are eager to know more about how their child is getting on at school, but work, medical or childcare issues mean being available during school hours is tricky, and even if they can come to the school, it can sometimes be a struggle to get in touch with their child’s teachers to arrange it.

We’re yet to find a way to slow down time but, the good news is, modern technology can offer teachers new ways to engage with parents that suit both parties.

With parental support vital for a child’s progress, a good parent-teacher relationship benefits everyone.

 

6 TOP TIPS FOR TEACHERS

1. Give parents your work email address Yes, we know that can be a scary prospect, and many schools have a policy of withholding this essential piece of information from parents in case teachers are inundated with requests, or abused. But in 2017, it makes no sense for parents not to have a direct route to communicating with you. If your school really doesn't want to offer this information on its website, then it can set up a general email account for parents to use to request meetings or phone calls to discuss their children's progress, which is then passed on to you. We know many schools already do this, but we also know many don't!

2. You’ve got mail One reason why this may sound a horrifying prospect is that when you're teaching a full-on, six-period day, keeping up with a mountain of emails can feel hopeless. One way to cope would be to set up an autoresponder email indicating to the sender a set time in the day or week when you check and reply to emails. The same message can also re-direct parents to an alternative point of contact if their query is urgent. This simple, friendly message can help avoid conflict or frustration for parents who are waiting for a reply, whilst also taking the pressure off you to respond immediately. 

3. Homework helpers Many schools now use virtual learning environments so teachers can set, mark and comment on homework online. Parents can be particularly appreciative of this method of keeping up with their child’s progress, especially when they’re very busy themselves. Pupils sometimes lose their homework diaries or don’t write down details of their homework assignment. This way, teachers can engage with parents and help them feel involved in their child’s learning.

4. Lost in translation There will be some parents whose first language won’t be English, and any communication will generally have to be made through the pupil. Now, teachers can use translation apps and sites, such as Google Translate, when writing emails and letters to parents. This way, parents will be able to be communicate directly with you and you won't have to wait for a translator, or worry that the pupil may not be conveying the exact message you want to pass on to their parent or carer.

5. Face-to-Facebook Teachers can create a private Facebook page where they can update parents on useful information, such as whether homework has been set, reminders about meetings, or if the teacher themselves will be away. You can do this from your private account, but those details won't be seen by anyone viewing the page. This way, the communication between parent and teacher is a lot more instant and direct. The page can be set so that no one but you can post - thus avoiding any inappropriate or abusive comments.

6. Distance learning Parents may be unable to come to their child’s school for information evenings, internet safety talks etc for many reasons. However, they still value support and advice from schools and teachers. By giving parents access to online parenting courses, they can complete them in their own time without having to leave their home.

Do you have any tips to pass on to help teachers and parents communicate? Email us at content@parentzone.org.uk or, if you are a Parent Zone Digital School member, log in and go to our PROFESSIONALS FORUM.

 

Useful links:

Parenting in the Digital Age online parenting course

Teaching in a digital age: it’s time to catch up and work together