School districts across the country are navigating the challenge of providing quality education in the midst of a pandemic. While COVID-19 has changed the way schools run, teachers and administrators are finding new, creative ways to support their students.
In the past, schools held most activities — classes, after-school activities, and parent-teacher meetings — in person. Now, many of these activities are happening online to minimize the possibility of transmitting the virus (even if students are attending in-person classes at the school). For example, many teachers are holding virtual parent meetings, using tools like Zoom, rather than in-person meetings.
Tips for a successful virtual parent meeting
As a teacher or school administrator, how can you make a virtual parent meeting as successful as an in-person conversation? Here are a few tips to improve the productivity and effectiveness of these meetings:
- Digital signup functionality. Scheduling meetings with parents can take a lot of time out of a teacher’s already busy day. The back-and-forth email conversations cut into curriculum preparation, grading, and more. With JotForm’s Zoom Scheduler, parents can set up their own meetings over Zoom without all the back and forth. Teachers can also use this online form to schedule a Zoom meeting.
- Reputable service. Zoom is one of the most popular — and reputable — virtual meeting tools. The platform lets participants join a meeting via a computer, smartphone, or tablet. Videoconferencing allows everyone to see the other participants, or you may choose to use the audio-only option during the meeting. For more information, check out this helpful article about how to use Zoom.
- Step-by-step instructions. Never assume that parents know how to use Zoom or other videoconferencing technology. Provide step-by-step instructions or film a short walk-through to show parents how to log in and participate in the Zoom meeting.
- Pre-meeting preparation. Not only is it helpful to offer technical guidance about using the system for a virtual parent meeting, but it’s also useful to provide parents with an agenda for the call. Plan ahead so you can send parents a short outline to give them an idea of what you’ll discuss. This will help you make the most of your time by prioritizing the topics.
- Video options. One of the benefits of Zoom is that you can see the participants’ faces during the conversation. There are also times when you might want to show paperwork or other information. Instead of holding papers up to the webcam, consider using a document camera so parents can see the student’s homework. Another option is to share your screen during the meeting.
- Time management. You need a bit of wiggle room to work through technical issues, so allow a little extra time between meetings. An extra five minutes in your schedule can go a long way toward fixing any digital issues or talking to parents about their child’s performance in the classroom. Respect everyone’s schedule by ending the meeting on time. If needed, set a timer to keep yourself on track.
- Listening and talking. Even though there may be a lot of information to cover in a short virtual parent meeting, make sure that you always give parents time to talk. It’s common for them to have questions and concerns. This meeting is an opportunity to offer a listening ear and engage in a two-way conversation.
- Backup plan. Don’t make the mistake of allowing technical issues to eat up the whole meeting time. If you encounter problems that you can’t resolve in a couple of minutes, be ready with a backup plan. For example, you might need to switch to a regular phone call if the parents can’t figure out videoconferencing.
Digital interface for virtual meetings
Educators, businesses, and organizations are using digital meeting tools more often than ever before. At JotForm, we’re committed to providing streamlined tools and simple interfaces. Whether you’re teaching in a grade school or managing a university, digital tools can help you manage data and online meetings. Check out these other online school forms for teachers and educators.