Have you ever had to make special arrangements for your kids just so you could attend a 20 minute parent-teacher conference? I have. It can be disruptive to everyone’s schedule. The school is a good fifteen minutes away too. As a parent, I know I would love to have the ability to have a video conference from home with my kids’ teachers. Just imagine how convenient that would be for the teachers!!
Video conferencing has its place in business, but it doesn’t stop there. Education is a complex field with just as many strategic planning foibles as interpersonal ones. Parent-teacher conferences are one of the most dreaded events for many teacher and school administrators, if only because it involves retaining high volumes of information with short periods of time to address it in. However, video conferencing can make the process painless.
- Information at Your Disposal
One of the most important things when it comes to parent-teacher conferences is preparation. When you’re a teacher or school administrator, you’ll most likely be dealing with many students at once. Parent-teacher night is one of the most stressful evenings of each semester, so you’ll want to arm yourself with all of the essential technology to get through it painlessly.
Depending on how large your classes are, this might be more manageable for some teachers than others. However, if you’re dealing with 200 students, here are a few tips about how to make sure you’re ready to go:
- Have the report card handy and note any problem areas. The parent will undoubtedly ask you for an explanation of the low grade.
- Gather necessary information into an online portfolio. Make it easy to refer to materials you’ll need during the meeting with the click of a button.
- Compose yourself and have something to drink nearby to remain hydrated.
- Prepare yourself to field questions you may not be expecting. Make notes before the big night arrives.
- Glance over the list of names of your students as a refresher. Some of them might be more memorable than others, depending on levels of in-class participation.
Once you check off these simple tasks, it’ll make the entire meeting run much more smoothly. Hosting a video parent-teacher conference isn’t much different than attending one in person, except you have more time to prepare. When you’re using a service like Blue Jeans for Education, you won’t have much setup to worry about since companies like Bluejeans run from the cloud. You won’t need to go into a conference room with special equipment or learn to use a complicated system.
- Cuts the Wait Time
These days, parent-teacher conferences seem to be more about waiting than about actually discussing students’ grades and improvement plans. According to Today, parent-teacher night after sixth grade in New York can mean waiting in a gym or cafeteria with hundreds of confused other parents for hours, trying to figure out who to talk to and where to go. However, when you’re using video conferencing to connect with parents via a screen, it makes everyone’s lives much easier. One of the most stressful parts of the parent-teacher conference is the travel time involved and physical waiting. All of that is eliminated when you have a video appointment. Parents can participate in the meeting from the comfort of their own home or office.
- Combining with Other Technology
In an article penned for Digital Promise by Liane Wardlow, Senior Research Scientist at The Pearson Center for eLearning, a Pearson study was conducted to try and gauge how technology was being used most effectively in education. The teacher focus groups in the study revealed that the use of various technological tools, such as e-mail, texting, websites, online portfolios, and even online calendars is widespread.
Using these tools in conjunction with video conferencing streamlines everything. You’ve got the interactive element set, so the only other part is setting up the actual materials you need. In general, technology makes everything easier if you actively seek out the right tools and approach of how to more efficiently conduct a student-teacher conference.
- Overcoming Time and Distance Struggles
Huffington Post suggests how technology can help teachers overcome the challenge of trying to get parents into the same room, a problem usually rooted in time and distance barriers. Although many types of technology can be useful in education, you also need to keep in mind the nature of your needs. One of the worst types of parent to meet in person is the one who had to commute for over an hour to sit down for two minutes and talk about a child who you may not even know that well. This fatigue and irritation gets in the way of actually having a productive outcome from the meeting that will benefit the child. Video conferencing, on the other hand, eliminates the need for that frustrating drive or train ride. In the long run, the parent-teacher conference can become less of a dreaded frustration, and can actually function as it was intended.
Being an educator is tough, busy work, and taking the time to adapt to new technology can be a daunting task. However, if you’re willing to take that little bit of extra time to embrace a tool like video conferencing and integrate it into your teaching methods, you can save yourself a lot of time. Being able to communicate with parents, and even students, over a distance is an invaluable asset to have.
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