Key ways to ensure these essential check-ins are positive and productive

With so many gatherings and meetings shifting into the international journal, the time-honored tradition of family-teacher conferences will also most likely need to be remote this school year. Perhaps your school community has already hosted a virtual back-to-school night or college fair. Whether you’re able to video-chat with parents and guardians or need to rely on good old-fashioned phone calls, now is the time to consider what these important check-ins can look like — and how to make them a positive communication tool — during the coronavirus pandemic.

  1. Be strategic with scheduling
    For parents, guardians, teachers, and students alike, the challenge of scheduling and keeping track of virtual appointments can be a daunting one. Luckily, various tools and strategies can help you stay organized so you’re not spending more time trying to line up meetings than you are actually participating in them. Check out the following tools to make that happen:

Google Calendar Appointments
Google Forms (here’s an example you can customize)
Sign Up Genius (free basic account)

  1. Be flexible with format
    You’ve probably had Google Meets or Zoom calls freeze or glitch at some point this year, which was maybe due to a weak internet connection or software glitches. On top of potentially unreliable video-conferencing platforms, you shouldn’t assume that students’ households have a steady internet connection. After all, the digital divide remains a big issue across the country, and students may be participating in distance learning from wireless hot spots. So be flexible! Consider regular phone calls as an alternative. Plus, it’s not safe to assume that parents and guardians will be comfortable using video conferencing, even if their internet connection and technology access are up to par.
  2. Use screen sharing
    If you’re conducting a conference via video, consider sharing your screen! Just as you might enhance a classroom lecture or presentation with visuals, you can make online conversations more productive — and interesting — by showing samples of student work, district resources for remote and hybrid learning, or other information. Whether you’re using Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or another video-conferencing platform, screen sharing is a common feature and shouldn’t be overlooked. Here’s a list of dos and don’ts to further hone this strategy.

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