Nightlock

Best Practices for Parent Communication During COVID

September 20, 2020 jill Blog

 

By Amanda Richards

Especially during a time of crisis, there is not a “one size fits all” solution to parent communication during COVID-19.

What may be the perfect amount of communication for one parent might be too much communication for another parent. Similarly, what one principal may feel is reasonable for communication may not meet a parent’s need for what is reasonable.

We understand the complexities of this topic and want to provide some tactical best practices to communicate with their families during this time.

  1. Identify routines for virtual parent communication.
    • Communication frequency (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually)
    • Communication methods (flyers or papers, emails, texts, phone)
    • Send surveys or questionnaires to get feedback on communication at set frequencies

A study of 2,000 Americans by OnePoll showed that 80% of Americans see themselves as “creatures of habit” and have set daily routines. Parents have routines to keep their family unit running properly and get all of the things done in a day, especially with new at-home learning structures.

Having set routines for when parents receive information allows them to schedule time to read it each week. If the school sends out the weekly parent newsletter every Thursday morning, parents can set time at their lunch break or over dinner conversation to read the school communication. These routines create engagement, familiarity, trust, and internalization.

Additionally, routines and repetition of messages within parent communication can build behaviors and mindsets, along with showing parents that it is important to the principal that the school is communicating regularly and frequently.

School leaders also require routines. Routines build accountability and time for school leaders to focus on sending out communication. Communication with parents is an essential element to a successful school during COVID, but proactive communication can fall down the “to-do” list of a principal fairly quickly. Setting protected time in your schedule for communication builds a routine, which allows parents to set time aside and truly hear what is being communicated.

  1. Identify all the possible methods of communication.
  • Text
  • Weekly email
  • USPS mailers with important information
  • Social media platforms

People receive information best in different ways. The Pew Research Center found that most adults use a wide variety of traditional and online sources when they are seeking news information. It’s not a surprise that parents do the same thing when seeking out information about the school.

When sending out communication to families, send it in many ways (social media, website, paper copies, email, etc.). Some parents will only rely on one method, but many parents will benefit from seeing the communication sent out many times through different methods.

One interesting data point is from a recent Gallup poll that found, “sending and receiving text messages is the most prevalent form of communication for American adults under 50.” Make sure to add a “texting” method to your parent outreach.

  1. Help teachers manage parent communication.
  • Support teachers in identifying their own preferences for teacher parent communication during at-home learning so they are not fielding communication at all times.
    • Help teachers communicate what times of the day parents can message them to get a quick response.
    • Consider having teacher email “office hours” where they all can spend time responding to parent emails at a certain time of day.
  • Help them streamline communications.
    • Many parents enjoy easily getting their communication via technology, but we’ve seen recently that there has been a trend of parents being overwhelmed with the amount of websites, apps, and messages sent to them. During this time, have one centralized location for parents in your class. A few ways you can get parents easy access to information about their kids in a one-stop-shop include:
      • Google Classroom Site
      • Teacher Class Website
      • One Daily/Weekly Email With All Important Information Necessary
    • Assign family case managers.
      • The school can assign each teacher as a case manager for every family in the school. This cuts down on the number of parents that are in constant communication with teachers. The case manager is responsible for checking in with each family that is on their caseload every day and supports them with any questions or needs. They are the parent and student’s main point of communication during COVID-19. This allows every family to have one person who has a central point of contact every day and feel comfortable sharing needs with them. This could be done on a school-level basis or even a grade-level basis among teacher teams. Some schools are also using teachers aids or elective teachers who may have more time during at-home learning to be case managers for more families.
    • Make a 24-hour rule for parent communication.
      • One way to improve parent trust and communication is to create a staff communication deadline and follow it fully. The 24-hour rule also helps parents trust that teachers will respond to their call/email and get the answers they want.
  1. Ask parents what is going well.

Ask parents what they appreciate about communication so you can continue doing that. Schools can also survey parents to ask them to “Shout out a teacher with strong parent communication methods.” Once parents respond, trends will appear of teachers who are strong in this area. During the school closures, that teacher could host a virtual PD to staff on effective remote parent-teacher communication during COVID-19.

Parent communication during COVID is crucial. Parents are the missing link that have feedback the school needs during at-home schooling. Reach out to them frequently and consistently!

Amanda Richards is a team member at Possip and leads the company’s professional services branch. Possip provides professional development to teachers and leaders, facilitates parent training, and creates helpful content for school, www.possip.com.

 

 

 

Tags: