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Could Virtual Conferences Double Parent Participation? Could Virtual Conferences Double Parent Participation?

Could Virtual Conferences Double Parent Participation?

#Achievement
Erin Werra Erin Werra Engagement Enthusiast
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100% participation in parent/teacher conferences.

Not just in one classroom, but in an entire elementary school

Yes, you read that right. We were pleasantly surprised when a district CTO reported that statistic to us. What’s the catch? Rewards, prizes, drawings? 

Nope, nothing quite so fancy. You see, all that district had to do was ditch miniature desks and marathon evenings for the comfort of each family’s own home. 

The paradigm shift of virtual parent/teacher conferences has the potential for incalculable impacts on parent engagement. Here’s why we expect them to stick around even after we’re crowding into concert venues again. 

 

The benefits of virtual parent/teacher conferences add up fast

  1. Teachers AND families can meet without the commute. They’ll never know you’re wearing slippers and sweats. 
  2. No childcare needed. Meet after kids' bedtime! Bring the baby! Send the kids to grandma’s! Order pizza! Anything goes! 
  3. Get students involved for part, then say goodbye. Grown-ups can send kids to play Fortnite for once, or off to an extra study session (you’ll know which one they’re going to choose). 
  4. No tiny chairs! Imagine: Conferences on the couch. (Go ahead and steal it.) 
  5. Parents can join from work. For parents working outside the home, one less place to be is cause for celebration. 
  6. Masks not needed. The virtual setting eliminates transmission of germs, and also allows for open communication, lip reading, and reading expressions or nonverbal cues. For family members with auditory processing or hearing challenges, this can make a huge difference.  
  7. Recordkeeping is easier. Keep notes or capture a screen recording of important information to follow up on later. 
  8. Secure connections. Virtual meeting spaces offer encryption, password protection, and other safety mechanisms. 
  9. Safety of school buildings. No need to invite new people into secure buildings to look around and learn the nooks and crannies. 
 

But set expectations before you start 

  1. Set scheduling expectations: Surveys, conversations, and culture all play a role here. If teachers are okay with offering later sessions or using prep time, those decisions can create flexibility the way in-person conferences could never.  
  2. Security of devices: Don’t video chat on personal devices and never feel pressured to give out personal contact information. Use a blurred background or have a custom, branded virtual background available for teachers who may elect to offer conferences from a home office. 
  3. Set expectations for behavior of all parties. Set those boundaries and remember this is a brand-new world to families and staff alike. Learn as you go. 
  4. Like virtual class, be prepared for anything. If boundaries are crossed, the conference ends immediately. 

When parents get involved with their child’s education, great things happen. The recent dive into virtual infrastructure means the stage is set for parents to join educators from wherever they might be, removing one large barrier to making that connection. 
 

Follow-up resource: Why parent engagement matters so much (and what to do about it) 

Visit https://www.skyward.com/parentengagement to learn more. 

 

Erin Werra Erin Werra Engagement Enthusiast
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