How to Stay Connected with Your Online Student’s Teachers
One of the biggest benefits of online learning is the one-on-one attention and instruction that students receive from their teachers. Rather than fighting for the attention of the instructor with 20 or 30 other children, or — even worse — simply drifting into the background, online students are guaranteed ample facetime with their teachers.
They do have to make sure to grab those opportunities, because the online education model often requires the students to proactively approach their teachers with questions or concerns. Sometimes, kids need a little assist from mom or dad to do that kind of outreach — and, as we’ll see, mom and dad are expected to do some parent-teacher outreach of their own.
We recently spoke with Anna Peacock-McLaughlin, a middle school history teacher with K12 International Academy, and Susan Hollingsworth, K12 International Academy’s manager of family and student support, to discuss how parents of online students can stay involved with their child’s progress and connect with their teachers throughout the school year.
How Often Do Online Students Communicate with Their Teachers?
Online students are encouraged to communicate with their teacher on a regular basis, according to Ms. Peacock-McLaughlin.
“Students can reach out as much as they want,” she said. “I always want to make sure that I am absolutely meeting their needs. (But) if a student is falling behind on their work, I will reach out more often to help keep them on track. We won’t let you fall out of touch.”
The frequency that your child meets with their teacher will vary, noted Ms. Hollingsworth, depending on their grade level. She cited K12 International Academy as an example.
“In the lower schools, the teachers are homeroom teachers, they meet with students on a biweekly basis,” she explained. “In the upper level (6-12), the homeroom teacher goes away, and we now have subject specific teachers. The students talk with each of their subject teachers once a month.”
How often do parents of online students talk to teachers?
As the parent of an online student, you are also expected to be your child’s learning coach. You will need to connect with your child’s teachers regularly.
Ms. Peacock-McLaughlin told us that the frequency of the meetings changes at K12 International Academy, however, as your child moves up through the grades.
“For lower school, K12 International Academy does have set parent-teacher meetings that are recurring twice a month,” she said. “In middle school, parent meetings are sort of ad hoc, so if the parents request them, we’ll set it up. It’s up to the parents if they want to create a scheduled and recurring meeting.”
During these meetings, you will discuss your child’s progress and receive the support that you need to make sure online learning is a success.
“Each time I communicate with parents, we almost always talk about grades,” Ms. Peacock-McLaughlin said. “During these conversations, I also like to touch on learning styles, because no one knows a kid’s learning style better than their parents and Learning Coach.”
Maintaining open communication with your child’s teacher
Model best practices, parents! The most effective way to encourage your child to maintain a good relationship with her online teacher is to demonstrate how the importance of a strong relationship.
“At all levels, the learning coach needs to facilitate communication with the teacher, as well as model it,” Ms. Hollingsworth explained. “Not just encouraging their student’s contact with the teacher, but also leading the way with regular communication with teachers and the school.”
Resources for Parents
As a learning coach, you must be committed to ensuring that your student thrives in the online learning environment. Sometimes, fellow learning coaches provide the best support for each other, which is why K12 International Academy encourages parents to connect.
“We offer high school parents three sessions a month called The Parent Corner. They’re focused on how to support your child in an online environment,” Ms. Hollingsworth said. “We present one about time management, one on course selection and another on finishing a semester strong. These sessions are actually led by Learning Coaches. In the lower school, we have Coach to Coach sessions that happen once a month and are specific to issues that parents have voiced.”
By staying connected with your student’s teachers, you can ensure that your student’s experience with online learning is enjoyable and successful.