Supporting your families and staff remotely
Your center just closed unexpectedly. What now?
The community and sense of purpose that comes from working together in early education is precious. And so an unexpected closure due to Covid-19 or a weather event is distressing.
However, if you have an online platform like Educa, there’s a lot you can do to support your families and teachers remotely. Educa is a community and collaboration platform. It can play a pivotal role during closures.
Here are some ideas on how.
Keep Families Informed
The Educa Message Board is an incredible resource for keeping parents updated. You can communicate to everyone, by class or by group. Many centers do weekly updates. If your center is closed, you might consider a daily update:
- News on your centre, events in your area
- News on families and staff members, particularly if there are concerns
- Encourage parents to reply to messages with photos showing what they are doing at home – that all the parents can see
- Call for volunteers or help if you need it
- Send activity and parent story ideas for children at home
Making the Message Board Interactive
Encourage feedback in your messages to preserve the sense of parent community. The Message Board works like a Facebook group in this way.
The message board also has a “viewed by” feature, where you can see who is seeing your message, and who isn’t.
There are more post ideas for the message board here.
And finally, if you are part of a group, please don’t forget our “share” feature, for posting messages to multiple sites.
Keep Teachers Engaged
To keep your teacher community intact, post a Teacher Message. Each message and ensuing discussion can include all teachers or can be limited to a class, classes or group. For many teachers, it can be important 24-hour connection to peers – a source of information, feedback and encouragement.
In addition, here are two other tools – outside Educa – that can help stay connected to staff and peers:
- Zoom, a super-easy, free online video and audio conferencing service that has screen sharing and more.
- Loom, a free screen-recording tool using a Chrome plug-in. Use a voiceover to point things out online, send instructions, ask questions.
Use Groups to Manage Differing Family or Teacher Circumstances
In uncertain times, circumstances change. If you need a way to track those changes or to communicate with subsections of your community, Educa has a group tagging feature.
Once you create a group — for teachers or children and parents – you will then be able to send messages just to parents or teachers in that group. Teachers are able to use this feature for their group stories also.
If you have resources or policies that are of interest to parents or teachers, post them to the private Policies or Resources area and use privacy settings on each document for teachers only, or for families and teachers.
Teacher Development At Home
Use teacher form templates in Educa to create professional development plans or assignments, where the evidence of work done on this plan that can be entered into the form and/or linked to teacher portfolio posts.
A center closing can be a stressful time, and part of that comes from losing the connection to the children and to the families you have devoted your life to helping. Here are a few ways to stay connected.
Videos. Use the “Day Journal” setting in Educa so as not to identify it as a learning story. This can be a group story or an individual story.
Share ideas to continue the learning at home – using the Message Board. Here are some activity ideas.
Encourage families to share images of what they are doing at home. Use the message board to send a note out to your class parents, inviting them to reply with photos of what they are doing at home. On the message board, these replies are seen by everyone on the initial message.
Start private conversations with your parents using the group story or day journals. All parents will see your post, but replies are private, seen only by you and the parent.
Professional reflections. If you are at home, it is an ideal time to work on inquiry and/or reflective practice in your teacher portfolio.
Upload materials for your class in the Resources section of Educa, just for their use – games, health notices, anything.
One great way to keep the learning journey going, even if there is a closure, is to encourage families to post stories to their child’s portfolio. In Educa, that is easy for parents to do using our Parent Story feature.
Furthermore, here is an article on parent stories you could share with your families. It pitches the value of a parent story and lists a range of ideas to continue the learning at home.
Finally, please know you are not alone. Educa support is based in New Zealand and the US, and so we have good coverage from a timezone perspective. And if you are a customer, and are interested in what others are doing, please join the Facebook Educa user group.
Family comments on the Message Board
Creating parent stories on Educa
Sending messages to multiple sites – the “Share” button
Teacher portfolios for professional development