Parents…Your New Co-Teachers

By Kaci Coats, The Collaborative for Exceptional Education

In one of our recent online planning meeting conversations, one of the participants stated that ‘the power dynamic has shifted.’ Previously, being in school buildings gave the school staff a sense of holding the power with their ability to easily engage students through peer relationships, teacher proximity, positive reinforcement, and school-wide consequences. 

Now, however, teachers are in a place that without those systems, they are realizing they have limited tools in their toolbox to GET kids engaged and KEEP kids engaged in virtual learning. One teacher this week told me that he was mid-sentence in one of his one-on-one virtual sessions when the student closed his laptop without even a word. I laughed really hard and considered how gut-sy that kid must be, but talk about feeling powerless as a teacher!

This shift in power dynamics has created the need for a partner in this work. Who is this hidden partner, you ask? Parents. Yep...parents...the authority of the house, the owner of the technology, and the ones who are swamped beyond belief right now! Parents are working, tending to multiple children, connecting with multiple schools, receiving communication from multiple teachers, on multiple subjects, potentially in a language they don’t speak, and they have varying levels of content knowledge and expertise that they are drawing from. Oh and by the way, we're also in a pandemic and in a state of economic crisis, and their anxiety and fear levels are riding high. 

But even with all those challenges, parents are the ones we need to prioritize building relationships with and working to engage. And when I say engage, I don't mean another phone call where we tell them what they need to do or what we're working on or another email listing all the academic expectations. Instead, now is the time for us to embrace them as our new co-teachers and help them accept this new role. This will be especially true for our students who we are having a hard time engaging.  

Now, those of you who have had co-teachers in the past know that a co-teaching relationship doesn’t take place overnight. And similarly, working alongside our parents and building a trusting and effective co-teaching relationship is going to take time. But this shift in mindset will help us reconsider our approach to building relationships with our parents.

We believe that this partnership with parents was incredibly important before but now it’s crucial given our current circumstances. Because of this belief, we have begun developing webinars and resources to help you work with your parents and to help parents build their skills as they move into their new roles. 

The great news is, any effort you make to build these relationships now, will never be wasted. Next year, whether we are back in our buildings or in and out of online learning due to closures, these relationships will be a foundation that we can build strong student support on and will allow us to redefine what parent engagement looks like. 

Your thought-partner,

Kaci Coats, kcoats@exceptionalcollaborative.org

Executive Director, Collaborative for Exceptional Education

 

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COMMUNICATING WITH PARENTS WHO ARE NON-ENGLISH SPEAKING
Google Translator Website, app, and extension to translate text, voice, print, and screenshots. Integrated with Google Apps. Using the camera feature, students/parents can translate print text instantly. Copy and paste text to translate in order to communicate with parents and students.
Microsoft Translator Website and app to translate text, voice, conversations, camera photos and screenshots. Integrated with the Microsoft Suite. Teachers can caption live presentations in parent/students’ home language. Speech translation in real-time for parent conferences or to communicate with students.
Read&Write for Google Chrome App and extension toolbar with text-to-speech, annotation, picture dictionaries, and bilingual dictionaries. Students can choose from multiple features to use to better understand a text. Students can use this tool with google docs, websites, and pdfs.
Talking Points An app that supports two-way communication in multiple home languages in order to reach the hardest-to-reach families. Can be used in a web-browser or via text message.
COMMUNICATING WITH PARENTS WHO ARE NON-ENGLISH SPEAKING
Google Translator Website, app, and extension to translate text, voice, print, and screenshots. Integrated with Google Apps. Using the camera feature, students/parents can translate print text instantly. Copy and paste text to translate in order to communicate with parents and students.
Microsoft Translator Website and app to translate text, voice, conversations, camera photos and screenshots. Integrated with the Microsoft Suite. Teachers can caption live presentations in parent/students’ home language. Speech translation in real-time for parent conferences or to communicate with students.
Read&Write for Google Chrome App and extension toolbar with text-to-speech, annotation, picture dictionaries, and bilingual dictionaries. Students can choose from multiple features to use to better understand a text. Students can use this tool with google docs, websites, and pdfs.
Talking Points An app that supports two-way communication in multiple home languages in order to reach the hardest-to-reach families. Can be used in a web-browser or via text message.

 

Great resources from Understood.org focused on supporting diverse learners during at home learning:

FREE WEBINARS OFFERED THROUGH THE COLLABORATIVE

  • Facilitating Independence - Monday 4/27/2020 3:30-4:30 PM MDT This webinar is being offered to provide parents, paras, and teachers guidance as they help their students become more independent in both academic and daily living skills.  We are excited to have Jessica Bird Rusin, Director of the Primary Multi-Intensive Center at STRIVE Prep - Ruby Hill, joining to share resources and tips that have been successful for her students during their transition to online learning. Register Here
  • How Do I Know I’m Being Effective? The Art of Monitoring Goal Progress Online - Monday 5/4/2020 4:30-5:30 PM MDT Most of us have not taught virtually before let alone tried to provide services to students on virtual platforms.  So how do we know if it is working? What data can we be collecting to help drive decision-making during this time? In this webinar, we have invited teachers to share what they have learned about assessing progress during online learning and how they know they are being effective. Register Here

Recorded Webinars

Parent Webinar Series: “Becoming a Home School”  Parents are invited to join this webinar series to gather tips and tricks that will help them support their students during the current school closures.  Resource folder

  • Becoming a Home School: Creating a home environment conducive to your child’s learning. In this session, parents will be given strategies to help them set up a learning environment to meet their student's learning needs through altering the physical space, use of materials, and providing strategic support during academic activities. Here’s the recording.
  • Becoming a Home School: Systems & structures that support your child’s behavior at home. In this session, parents will be given strategies to help them set up systems and routines that will help them prevent and support behaviors they may encounter as students move to online schooling. Here’s the recording.
  • Becoming a Home School: Strategically connecting to support your child’s mental health. In this session, parents will learn about the importance of monitoring their students' mental health during times of closure and will receive strategies to proactively create opportunities for connection to foster social and emotional well-being in their child. Here’s the recording.

SUPPORT & COLLABORATIVE PLANNING OPPORTUNITIES

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need a thought partner! We will also be hosting opportunities to receive support and to collaborate with other special educators and related service providers weekly. Contact us to get added to the calendar invite and to get the Zoom links to these meetings!

  • Special Education Teacher Support Group Weekly on Mondays 1:00-2:00 PM MDT
  • Collaborative Planning for Online Services: Mental Health Providers  Weekly on Tuesdays 2:00-3:00 PM MDT
  • Collaborative Planning for Online Services: Severe Behavioral & MH Needs Weekly on Wednesdays 3:30-4:30 PM MDT
  • Collaborative Planning for Online Services: Moderate to Severe Cognitive Disabilities Weekly on Thursdays 3:30-4:30 PM MDT
  • Collaborative Planning for Online Related Services: Speech Providers Weekly on Thursdays 2:00-3:00 PM MDT
  • Collaborative Planning for Online Services: Leading Schools Through COVID-19 Every other week on Mondays 3:30-4:30 PM MDT

ALSO SEE ALL LEAGUE RESOURCES

Links to recent state guidance:

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