A new school year is here and parents, students, and teachers are all excited to get back into the classroom. Of course, the pandemic is not yet over with many lingering concerns about new variants clouding what should otherwise be a happy time of year. However, everyone is much more prepared for what the 2021/2022 school year holds compared to the previous school year. One thing that will likely continue to be used during this new school year is video conferencing. While some schools and school boards may have differing rules about COVID precautions, it appears many schools will limit outside visitors into the school as much as possible. This means that, at least for the time being, educators are likely to turn to video conferencing for parent/teacher conferences rather than traditional face-to-face meetings.
This can have its own challenges in addition to everything else going on in the world. Luckily, there are some helpful tips to manage virtual parent/teacher conferences and make the most of the time, even if they can’t be held in-person.
Create a Schedule
One of the main challenges with virtual conferences is keeping a schedule together. A teacher with multiple classes could have dozens of students and their families that they need to connect with. Scheduling can make this much easier and help with some of the tips later on in this blog.
Something like a sheet where parents can fill in their names should work in most cases. However, there are also scheduling solutions that can allow parents to log in and book a time directly in the calendar. This helps reduce the chances of double booking, gives everyone the time they deserve, and makes a hectic parent/teacher conference night just a little bit easier.
Help Parents Understand Your Video Conferencing Platform
Many people have become very familiar with video conferencing over the last year and a half. However, there are a number of platforms people use and some may still have little experience with video conferencing services if their job doesn’t depend on it. Taking a few minutes to help prepare parents for what to expect when using the platform before the meeting can go a long way.
This could be as simple as creating a short video or finding an existing video online that briefly walks through the video conferencing platform. If using a popular service like Google Meet, for example, it should be quick and easy to find some helpful resources to email to parents several days before the meeting. The more comfortable they feel with the platform, the more they can be engaged in the discussion rather than troubleshooting.
Set Goals, Stay on Focus
The most important thing about any parent/teacher conference is that the student’s development is the main point of conversation. This can be tricky, especially in a video chat environment. Creating a positive environment at home and at school has shown to improve learning outcomes for students. In order to accomplish this, everyone needs to be on the same page going into the discussion with clear goals for the conversation.
The best way to accomplish this while video conferencing is to create a virtual checklist using a preferred word processing software and sharing with parents ahead of the meeting. Communicating beforehand can also give parents the opportunity to share their thoughts on some topics or add topics of their own that they wish to discuss regarding their child. With a clear agenda in place before the conference begins, it’s much easier to keep the discussion on track and focused on the learning development of the student.
Be Prepared to Share
Unlike in a face-to-face parent/teacher conference, teachers cannot simply hand over a sheet of paper for parents to review. However, it’s still important to share student work to show progress or challenges. Luckily, sharing is easy with most video conferencing platforms. Teachers can have the works they wish to share open on their desktop and then present or share their screens during the meeting to highlight or emphasize certain things.
Not only does this allow for parents to see what is being discussed during the meeting, it also helps to break up the meeting. Instead of simply staring into a screen at each other’s faces, parents and teachers can discuss and collaborate easily with visual aids to support the discussion.
Make the Next Video Conferencing Session Memorable
The education field has had to overcome many challenges during this pandemic and teachers have performed admirably in the face of adversity. With more challenges on the horizon, there’s no doubt teachers will step up to the plate once again. Of course, for any support with parent/teacher video conferencing or any other education needs, contact the learning technology experts at CDS Office Technologies for advice, support, and sales.