There are many new challenges teachers face while working through a pandemic. One of these challenges is involving parents in and updating them on classroom activities. Pre-pandemic, teachers were able to involve parents by hosting back to school nights, having guest readers, planning holiday parties, and asking for chaperones during field trips. Now, we are faced with the challenge of inviting parents into our classrooms without “inviting parents into our classrooms.” Here are some ideas on how to safely keep parents involved, whether you are teaching in-person, teaching remote, or in a hybrid model.
1. Invite Parents to Be “Secret Readers”
Set up a Google Doc where parents can sign up to be secret readers, virtually of course! Pre-select days and times that work well for your schedule and have parents sign up for different slots. You can ask parents to give you three clues and have students guess who the secret reader is going to be. All you have to do is set up a Google Meet with the parent and he/she can read the class a book (on the big screen). Students always enjoy listening to their parents read in class so this is an easy way to invite parents to be a part of your class community. Can anyone say “Secret Reader Friday?”
2. Send Out A Weekly Video News Report
Weekly newsletters to parents can become tedious work for teachers. And let’s face it, how many parents actually sit there and read the page-long update? So, why not have your students report the classroom news? There are so many great recording programs, such as Screencastify and Flipgrid that you can use for this project. Select one or two students each week to give a news report from your classroom. They can report on what you learned that week or share any exciting events that took place. The reports don’t have to be too long but they will make students feel special and the parents will love it when it’s their child’s turn to be the reporter. You can post the videos to your teacher webpage or share them through Google Classroom. Please remember to get parent permission before recording and posting student videos.
3. Trade Places With Parents
Let the parents be the teachers! Ask students for a list of skills they would like to learn before the year ends. They can be things like how to tie a shoe, how to make slime, or how to solve a Rubix cube…whatever your students are interested in! Ask parents to volunteer to teach the class one of these skills. You can set up a whole week where parents “zoom-in” to teach students these fun life skills. If you don’t want to have parents teach the skills live, you can ask parents to record themselves and make your own Youtube tutorials just for your class. This is a fun way to encourage parent involvement in your classroom.
4. Organize A Virtual Cultural Assembly Featuring Parents
Instead of inviting parents to take part in the traditional holiday party, organize a virtual cultural assembly. Parents can share some of their favorite traditions with the class. They may wish to share food, clothing, games, or anything else that may be important in their culture. If hosting a cultural assembly seems like a daunting task, ask for parent volunteers to “call-in” with traditions near specific holidays. I know the parents of my students love sharing their traditions from Diwali and Lunar New Year with the whole class. This is a great way to make connections with the community while also celebrating diversity in your classroom.
Involving parents is an important responsibility of teachers. Thankfully, with technology, this responsibility doesn’t have to be stressful.