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5 Ways Teachers Can Communicate Effectively With Parents of Remote Learners

by Jennifer Rees

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Empowering teachers to use innovative tech to make learning more successful than ever.

If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s just how much people need real, human connection. For teachers, communicating effectively with students and their parents in a remote environment requires a willingness to embrace new communication technologies that help to bridge the gap between physical proximity and real connection.

What Is Remote Learning & Why Is It So Important?


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Remote learning is where teachers and students are connected in an educational setting outside of an in-person classroom. This can include scenarios of video classes, computer screen shares, and even call-in classes. While remote learning has been a concept for some time, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, students and teachers around the world have had to make a quick transition from in-person learning to remote learning.

While remote learning has its downsides, it has become a critical tool to sustaining an educational environment for students, all while keeping them safe from new dangers posed by being in close proximity during a pandemic.

5 Tools Teachers Can Use for Effective Remote Communication


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How can a teacher best stay in touch with their students’ parents in a remote environment? It may not always be feasible to have frequent 1:1 video calls with each parent, but there are helpful tools out there that teachers can leverage to communicate effectively with parents of remote learners.

Tool 1: WhatsApp Groups


WhatsApp is a useful mobile application messaging platform owned by Facebook that works globally. The platform can accommodate group messaging for up to 256 contacts and can be useful for teachers to relay important information to parents of remote learners in one simple application. For ease of use, once a user has the app downloaded to their mobile device, they can easily open the platform on desktop and manage their messaging from there.

WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, ensuring the security and privacy of the messaging content and contact information. Teachers are encouraged to check in with their school's organizational policies on communication and information security before they pursue any new route of communication with students or parents.

Tool 2: Email


Email remains one of the best ways for teachers to share information with students and parents quickly and easily. Its flexibility in accommodating information, from short text messages to detailed messages with multiple attachments, makes it extra useful in disseminating more detailed information, like term plans or project requirements, in a comprehensive and organized way.

If teachers need to email their students or their students’ parents, they can easily "Bcc" or "blind closed copy" them into emails, reaching multiple recipients with minimal effort. This means that recipients will see who the email came from, but they won't be able to see who else was copied into the mail, nor access their contact information.

Teachers can also switch on "read receipts" to have a record of which recipients have opened their emails.

Tool 3: Classroom Management Software


Classroom management software like LanSchool or ClassDojo can help connect teachers, students, and parents by offering a suite of live sharing and presenting options. Many of these programs additionally allow for teachers to monitor their remote learners’ electronic usage, ensuring that they remain on task during class hours. This is also a measurable way to reassure parents that their children are engaged and keeping up with their remote learning activities.

Programs like ClassDojo also carry features like "Class Story," which allows teachers the freedom to upload announcements, photos, and videos. This enhances the remote learning experience by keeping both students and their parents engaged—and in touch—with their school community.

Tool 4: Document Management Software


Class management is an important part of remote learning, but another critical aspect of the remote classroom is managing documents safely and effectively. Because remote learning is underpinned by digital communication, it's necessary for teachers to have a convenient way to store their documents and share them with other teachers, students, and parents.

Smallpdf has a range of document management tools perfect for schools that gives teachers the freedom to create PDFs, convert different file types, compress files, and edit PDFs. The software integrates seamlessly with Google Drive and Dropbox, so teachers can keep all their documents in one safe—and organized—place. This software comes with the added security of regulatory compliance for document management, and SSL encryption for secure information transfer.

Tool 5: Tools To Request E-Signatures From Parents


Teachers often need to request signatures from parents for things like report cards, homework confirmation, or permission slips. Since the recent surge in remote learning, requesting signatures from parents has had to evolve into the digital space.

With Smallpdf's newly updated eSign tool, teachers can use this platform to upload documents and request signatures from up to 100 signees. Teachers can also assume additional control over the signing process by showing parents where on the document they need to sign. Premium access to this software adds an extra layer of security with a digital seal for all signatures.

How Can Teachers Get Buy-in From Parents?


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While technology and software to support communication with parents of remote learners is fast evolving, none of it matters without commitment and buy-in from parents to make it work. It may take some effort on the teacher's part, but the most effective way to ensure parental buy-in on these communication tools is to demonstrate how they work, trial them, and gather feedback from the parents on what works best for them. Virtual parent-teacher check-ins (via email, group chats, or 1:1s) should be a consistent feature of remote learning and will go a long way in showing (rather than telling) parents the benefits of these tools.

Is This the Future of Parent-Teacher Communication?


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Even though it has taken a global pandemic to force a shift to digital communication, it is likely that even in a post-COVID world, the way we communicate and manage documents will be forever changed. Though in-person teaching is likely to resume at some point, advancements in remote learning will remain and continue to enrich educational environments into the future.

Are you a teacher or educational organization looking for better ways to manage and share documents with students and parents? Contact us and try Smallpdf for Schools today. We offer special pricing and customization for schools and universities, so they can leverage all the benefits of premium PDF tools—for less.

Jennifer Rees
Jennifer Rees
UX Writer