Supporting parents and teachers throughout turbulent times

Whilst the possibility of individual classes needing to self-isolate has been a reality since September, the new national lockdown has resulted in calls for places of education to close to the majority of pupils for the second time.

When this happened during the first lockdown, many parents and educators were overwhelmed by the unprecedented circumstances they found themselves in. Communication between both parties became critical to ensure that children could continue to progress during home learning.
Supporting parents:
Based on lessons learnt from previous school closures, we have provided some top tips to help teachers support parents if further home education is needed.
Share work and provide feedback:
If home learning is required, parents must be able to gain access to work that has been set, guidance on how to complete it and information about how their child can improve in the future.
Whilst this can be done without the use of online learning platforms, utilising the technology available can streamline communication and enhance teaching and learning.

If you plan on using a digital technology provider as part of your home learning strategy, it may be beneficial to distribute guidance to parents ahead of time so they are aware of how they can receive and monitor work if necessary. Setting homework tasks on the platform can also be a great way to ensure parents are familiar with the technology in case it is needed during school closures.
Social Media:
School social media accounts are a great way to communicate with parents during periods of home learning. They can be used to provide live updates, share advice and to commend pupils’ work.
Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter also allow you to pin your most important posts to the top of your page. This means parents can easily access useful information such as FAQs when they first reach the site.
Face to face communication:
Throughout periods of home learning, written communication between parents and teachers is likely to be the main form of contact. Whilst this is undoubtedly important, a lack of face to face interaction can make it difficult to maintain relationships.

If possible, organising virtual meetings with parents on platforms such as Zoom can bring a sense of normality. Face to face discussions about pupil progress and experiences of home learning may encourage parents to share any concerns more openly. Additionally, general chit chat within these sessions can help to sustain a good rapport between those involved.

As well as this, videos sent out to whole classes of parents explaining what is planned for the next week may help to keep them engaged. Reminding parents that there is a friendly face they can turn to if they need extra support could also help to reduce anxieties caused by home learning.
Supporting teachers:
Whilst it is essential that teachers support parents in order for home education to work, it is also true that teachers can’t pour from an empty cup. Below, we have highlighted a few ways teachers should be supported throughout these turbulent times so that they can continue to support others.
As previously mentioned, the increased need for home education has resulted in online learning platforms becoming more important than ever for schools. Whilst this offers a real opportunity for best practices in virtual education to be developed, getting to grips with new technologies can be a difficult process for teachers, particularly as parents are often dependent on them for guidance. 

As a result, it is vitally important that eLearning suppliers provide training to teachers and distribute advice on how to make technology work for them. Services such as CPD sessions, webinars and instructional videos are all beneficial methods of learning which can help teachers feel adequately equipped for online teaching.

Additionally, whilst training should provide teachers with the skills needed to answer questions from parents, technology suppliers should also offer support to parents as this can reduce pressures on teachers further.
New ideas and inspiration:
Teachers are now more used to delivering online learning and are increasingly thinking outside the box.

Many education technology suppliers can provide further help with this by suggesting content to teach, providing lesson plans and organising competitions for pupils to take part in whilst at home.

Another good tip would be to check whether suppliers run any social media groups as joining allows staff to become part of a community. Here, ideas and advice can be shared by teachers using the same resource which can boost morale and provide inspiration.
Mental Health support:
This new way of working can have a significant impact on teacher’s mental health. It is something which can lead to increased workload as teachers may be setting work for students isolating as well as teaching in the classroom. Additionally, supporting parents as well as pupils can take up a lot of teachers’ time. This can lead to stress hormones building up in the body, resulting in an inability to relax, poor sleep and anxiety.

As always, teacher wellbeing is of vital importance and schools must develop effective systems which ensure staff can talk to senior leaders if they’re struggling.

We have also put together a free pack for teachers which includes practical resources to boost wellbeing as well as a selection of free helplines and support services.

Purple Mash

Purple Mash:
At 2Simple, we work hard to ensure teachers can get the most out of our software. We understand that there is more than one way to learn, which is why we offer multiple forms of professional development for our whole curriculum resource, Purple Mash:  
Additionally, Purple Mash has its own training portal and resource sharing area. There is also a help page for the platform and our dedicated support team are available 5 days a week.
Helpful tips, tricks, activities and competitions can also be found in our parent and teacher newsletters as well as on our blog.  

To find out more about Purple Mash or to sign up for a free trial, please visit our website.

Author: Rebecca Gibson, 2Simple