Entry 4-October 9th
Returning to the communication topic from my last post, I want to now examine family feedback, and how crucial it can be in general, but specifically during a pandemic. Parents always want to know how their children are doing academically, but now that being on campus can be a matter of life and death, parents have numerous questions about the health and safety of their children. My son’s school, Pechersk School International (PSI), has put a lot of time and effort into modifying their campus, and putting in regulations to safeguard the students and staff. In the summer, all families received a Back to School Guide and accompanying video to take parents through the important decisions that were made, and the expectations of staff, students, and families going forward. Attached to the Back To School Guide, is a Google Document, which allows parents to continually ask questions which are answered by the Director, the school doctor, a CDC consultant, or one of the principals. Not having any direct experience with other schools, to search for norms, I can say with great confidence that PSI is exemplifying gold-standard measures for safety, communication, and for focusing on emotional wellbeing. To help students adjust to their hybrid learning situation, an advisory program has been established in the secondary school to ensure social-emotional learning is emphasized during this time of uncertainty. This class allows students time for questions, for games and for reflection.
Even with all the steps PSI has taken, and all the information they have sent out, the questions continue. Speaking to some of my friend’s who are teachers, they are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of emails they are receiving from parents. How do we ensure we are offering a sufficient amount of feedback, without experiencing teacher burn-out?
Ways to Provide and Receive Feedback from Students and Families
Surveys let you know if the information you are providing is having the desired effect. Surveys also let you quickly see a graph or a tangible number to confirm or contradict your assumptions about parental satisfaction. There are several survey apps which make sending and receiving results quick and easy.
Sometimes parents can get bogged down in all the newsletters, classroom information, or district e-mails. Just like students, it helps to cater to all types of learners in your community. One way to make parents feel at ease, especially if they are not allowed on campus is to make a video showing the measures you or your school has in place to keep them safe.
At PSI we have weekly town hall meetings which are recorded to ensure all parents can stay informed regardless of their schedule. This is another great way to impart information, but also for parents to ask or text questions and receive answers live. This way you may receive an answer to a question you didn’t realize you had!
Keeping parents in the loop and providing them with a consistent place to ask questions will ease tensions throughout the year. Having said that, you do need a time to switch off. Clearly state to parents your communication policy. If you do not answer emails during school hours or after 9:00 P.M. for example, make parents aware of this:
“Teachers who sense scrutiny from parents and administrators during this time when their struggles are observed have more difficulty coping. Teachers who perceive collegial support, who set limits on their time and who practice self-understanding are more successful in recovering efficacy and coping” (Guerin, 2020).
Guerin, C. 2020. How to Prevent Teacher Burnout During the Coronavirus Pandemic. The Conversation. Retrieved from: https://theconversation.com/how-to-prevent-teacher-burnout-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic-139353.