How’s our student doing?: PTMs in times of a pandemic

First published on Medium:

The pandemic and our new National Education Policy have changed the rules of the game for teachers, students, and finally, the parents! Let’s decide the agenda of our next PTM to bring some significant parents’ contribution in student learning!

Teacher-her kids-her students-students’ parents-parents’ jobs: it’s all smudged together in the stay-at-home lockdown routines! 

There are parents with a 2-year-old and an 8-year-old, the latter has classes in the morning and the former at 7 pm. Between those hours, the parents schedule their work, household chores, cooking and meal times! Six months now, some have set their routines while others are still struggling to encompass everything that’s necessary to do in a day for each member. 

Parents, also as our learners’ first teachers, have a lot to deal with. How can we, as educators, collaborate and support them to make the parent-teacher-student a synergetic dynamic? 

Student-parent PTM

Back in 1897, the founder of the first PTA of the world in America, Alice McLellan Birney was quoted saying “In the child and in our treatment of him rests the solution of the problems which confront the state and society today”. 

How often are we speaking with the parents of our student? Is it only at a scheduled PTM? Do we know how they are coping together at their homes? 

A culture-setting Padlet by the American Embassy School

This here is a fantastic idea to engage parents in sharing their thoughts and challenges with the teachers and the school! If you read through some of the gratitude notes, there’s a larger and tight community building up here! 

As educators, more so after the NEP’s latest iteration, we know that it’s the collective responsibility of us and parents to communicate with our students, and make sure to listen to what isn’t said. One definite channel is to do an easy flowing check-in with them, asking them of their routine, thoughts and challenges. Another underrated way is to not talk about everything, but hobby it out! As educators, let’s encourage parents to think of activities that can be stressbusters and something they can do together. 

Here’s a guide for educators to nudge more effective student-parent involvement beyond classrooms through PTM. 

Here’s also a great productive remote-learning daily schedule for your students and their families!

Pandemic-friendly activities

There are  now a bunch of complaints about students’ increased screen time. Rather, the question to ask is: If school’s gone online, why can’t break time play be offline? 

Five Family Activities

  1. Make a Celebrations book for your COVID stay-at-home laughs, fights and all other memories.
  2. Rainy season’s here! Perk up your plants and have the little scientist kids observe its growth and the effects of rain. 
  3. Create and author your Family Cookbook, and put in all your favorite recipes in there. 
  4. Make up for the dearth of handymen in the lockdown, and build some fine motor skills. Become Bob the Builder and fix your house together
  5. Relax and make virtual museum tours a part of your weekend almost-outdoorsy vacation. 

Check out this list of 250 more such creative activities that can be done with siblings, parents or the whole family together! 

Can parents join the co-curriculars?

With gyms, museum visits and concerts going online, what’s stopping us at schools from making that shift? There have been a few unfortunate notifications of how the extra-curricular activity teachers have been laid off for its lack of acknowledgement in the priority list of learning. But it’s NOT not important! 

Thankfully, there are schools who understand that, and have been conducting virtual fitness and yoga classes for students. When we revise our learning on different pedagogical practices, let’s think about inculcating and integrating project-based learning with our co-curriculars. With every activity being conducted virtually through homes, can co-curricular classes and projects be another bonding opportunity for parents and their kids? Can our virtual PTM with the student-parent become a little different with more engaging and collaborative action?

We sure know that’s true for kindergarten and primary classes happening under the supervision of parents. Why not actively involve them?

Using  Flipgrid, ask students to record their snippets of creativity and exercise with their parents. So many collection ideas for digital portfolios and celebration books! 

This UNICEF guide for COVID parenting also includes easily adaptable ideas to make learning and living together better! 

Another idea to build with the parent community is by sending short parent surveys to know them and their child as a person and a learner. What if you find out that one of your parents is actually a Physics major or an avid reader, and you could invite them as guest experts for a beyond-classroom learning! This simple practice will also exude respect and collaboration to the parents. 

Let the next PTM be about integrating some and all of these activities that can make for quality student-parent time too! Isn’t it a foolproof way of having parents as partners in the teaching-learning conversation, especially when parents have become the first teachers at home courtesy COVID?

Happy collaborating! 

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