5 ways of harnessing a new collaborative spirit between teachers and parents

How to cement better parent/teacher communication and a revolution in homework

Primary Oracy Lead

Every primary school teacher will know that finding a balance between too much and too little parent-teacher communication is near impossible. This communication BC (‘Before Coronavirus’) often became pigeon-holed to functional chat at pick up/drop-off or a termly, more personalised parents’ evening (but let’s face it, 15 meetings in and you can find yourself switching to autopilot). Since lockdown, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to realise that frequent communication with parents about their child, completed work or even about baking or pets has been so genuinely pleasant. In multiple cases I’ve managed to build stronger and more personal relationships with parents virtually than I found the time to do in person. Could this be due to the ‘we are all in this together’ sentiment that’s connecting us all at the moment? This rings particularly true for parents and teachers who are now co-educators, collaborating to support the development of ‘our’ child together rather than as those in charge of the previously more separate entities of home and school.

Here are five ways I will continue to harness some of this collaborative spirit once schools are open again.

1. Take homework online

Most homework books fall into one of three categories: lost, suspiciously neat or covered in a mystery food/drink. Given that homework is the main way of connecting home and school learning and that students have produced incredible work virtually during lockdown, it must be time for homework to move into the 21st century. Let’s keep the virtual classrooms going and use them for posting home-learning activities when we’re back at school and ensure the school plays a role in making sure all can access the online work.

2. Turn comments on

Allowing parents, students and teachers to comment on pieces of submitted work will lead to less miscommunication, more support and shared praise for the child’s work from all angles (and fewer homework books to mark on a Friday afternoon!)

3. Share guidelines

Share some simple guidelines with students and parents so that they’re aware of the frequency and content of the comments expected. Comments should be positive and constructive, focused on the task and timely (nobody wants to be commenting on a piece of work from last term).

4. Don’t make it all about work

Whether this means setting some homework that’s focused on home/family life and hobbies or adding tasks that involve the whole family. I’ve learnt so much about the families of children in my class in the last couple of months and this can only serve to improve my understanding of the children I’m teaching.

5. Virtual Parents’ Evenings

There’s always a handful of parents that are hard to book in those 1:1 meetings with. Now that we’re masters of Zoom, these meetings can be booked much more easily at a time convenient for all parents.

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