Unlocking a new level of learning: Enhancing the connection between parents and their school community
By Giancarlo Brotto, Global Education Advisor at SMART Technologies
As we look towards the start of a new term, educators as well as parents, will be contemplating what more they can do to supercharge the learning of their children and students. Students have had to contend with a lot over the past few years which in turn, distanced them from their teachers, and it’s safe to say that there is a lot of catching up to do.
With this in mind, it’s crucial that strong connections within the students’ support network – whether that’s between student and teacher, or teacher and parent – are taken to new levels with enhanced collaboration. This way teachers and schools can make up for the lost time in the classroom over the pandemic, by providing comprehensive support for their students both in school and at home.
We know, from data collected by SMART’s very own Edtech Assessment Tool, that schools can achieve better performance outcomes by creating a more symbiotic relationship between teacher and parent. Feedback from the assessment tool shows a clear connection between improved learning for students when the full school community is involved, resulting in greater efficiency in how learning is delivered.
With school set to return for the 2022-23 year, what do the key priorities look like for educators to enhance their connection with parents and ultimately benefit the student throughout the year?
Knowing who your pupils and parents are
The impact on learning brought by the pandemic has been widespread. Enforced social-distancing took students out of the classroom and siloed them and their parents away from the school. In some extreme cases, new students wouldn’t go on to meet their teachers and classmates in person for over six months.
Now normality has resumed, parents and teachers can refamiliarise themselves with one another and form a bond that helps preserve student wellbeing for the foreseeable future and like every connection, it takes effort to nurture.
What does this look like in practice for teachers? It means taking the opportunity to talk to your pupils and their parents, not just in the classroom or when an issue arises, but in a wide array of times like at pick-up times and during regular check-ins around performance and wellbeing. This active effort to connect with pupils and their parents on a one-to-one basis brings a multitude of benefits, like building increased trust and keeping parents up to date with the ongoing activity in the classroom.
To this point, remember to share the positive news! Parents are always open-eared about their children’s work and progress, so make sure to share their strengths – whether that’s a new skill they’re learning, academic improvements or their positive attitude in the classroom. Sharing these anecdotes with parents will only help to reinforce positive behaviours outside of the classroom.
How EdTech is breaking down the barrier between school and home
Necessary steps were taken during the Covid pandemic to ensure learning continued and one of the steps was a seismic shift towards online learning and technology-based teaching, which enabled the ability to remotely teach and learn. Now with an increased presence of edtech in schools, what can educators do to take advantage of it?
To put into context just how quickly the adoption of education technology was, our research shows that almost two thirds (64%) of schools in the UK are now embedding technology in everyday teaching and learning practices, using it to transform teaching approaches and learning outcomes with 84% of schools in the UK reporting positive outcomes for students, and 76% reporting to have met their teaching and learning goals as a result of this adoption,
One of the greatest attributes of modern edtech is its deployment in a variety of settings. Whether in-class or at home, educational portals brimming with content provide teachers and students alike with a variety of methods to teach & learn. It is this accessibility that meant that in a matter of days, kitchen tables and living rooms became the classroom for thousands of students during the pandemic. This presented a new and exciting opportunity for parents to engage with their child’s education like never before.
Technology is able to break down the barriers between parents, teachers and staff, allowing a free flow of communication, which we all know to be vital in a child’s education. Finding that blend between school life and home life is pivotal to guarantee that both are areas where children feel comfortable to learn, to ask questions and to engage with the material.
For an example of this integration between schools and parents that utilises technology, we can look at Shireland Technology Primary. Shireland actioned a plan that transformed the ways in which communication with parents was handled by integrating SMART technology throughout their education programme, both through interactive displays or the SMART online portal ‘Lumio’. This means that all content and resources that were being taught throughout the school were readily available to parents and students at home.
Going forward into term
With this information, teachers can go into the new term with the goal of building out students’ wider support network by setting out goals for the year early on, so that parents know exactly where the focus of their child’s learning is headed and can contribute.
Parents know, just as well as teachers, that students need increased support following the disruptions of the past few years. To place this responsibility solely at the feet of teachers means that a student’s learning is put on pause at the end of every school day. Through an increased relationship and connection between teacher and parents, students can be guaranteed a consistent support system, home and in-school, that helps them engage with the curriculum through enjoyable educational technology.