Online Teaching and Interacting with Parents
I’ve worked as an online tutor with VIPKid since 2017. I have also taught ESL in a traditional classroom setting. My experience dealing with parents in these two settings drastically differs.
When I made the switch to teaching online full-time, I needed to adapt to this new way of interacting with parents.
Some online teaching companies offer classes with multiple students. Working for VIPKid, however, I only have experience in the online classroom where the teacher is one-on-one with the student. In a one-on-one classroom setting the teacher will either be alone with the student, the student and a parent, or in some cases the student and multiple parents.
I’m going to talk about my experience with this and suggest some ways to navigate parental involvement and concerns. First, I will talk about the different ways parents get involved in the classroom and particularly how to deal with over involved parents. Second, I will talk about an opposite scenario in which the parents are under involved. Lastly, I will talk about interacting with parents through parental feedback.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Taylor S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Parents in the Classroom: Over-involved
As most of my students are young, parents are often present in the classroom. They can be very helpful in encouraging the student or helping them understand directions. If that is the case it is smooth sailing for the lesson. Sometimes, however, their involvement can actually interrupt the flow of class and hinder the student’s learning. I find this most often when parents are over involved. They may be answering and completing activities for the student rather than allowing them to attempt the task independently. For example, the teacher may ask, “what’s your name?” and the mom jumps in and says, “her name is Anne.” The goal here is to get the student talking and practicing speaking English. So, a parent answering for a student before the student is able to attempt the answer themselves is extremely unhelpful.
I have also had a few classes where the parents are yelling at the students or being too harsh rather than encouraging them. This tends to make the students regress and feel less confident. Let’s say mom or dad starts yelling at the student when they don’t understand the task and the student starts crying. This makes it difficult to get the student back on task and complete the lesson.
So, how do we go about dealing with parents who are over involved in the classroom? My first suggestion is to remember to always remain calm and be friendly. Parents are still able to review and give feedback on you. So, it’s important to manage them in a way that doesn’t leave a bad impression in their minds. If the parent is really hindering the students learning experience, write to the company. They will talk to the parents about better ways to be involved in future classes. For VIPKid you can do this on the student’s feedback form under the section labeled ‘suggestions to student through VIPKID’. Then by clicking ‘parents involved too much’ writing a comment on what specifically happened in the class and how you think the parents can improve.
Parents in the Classroom: Under-involved
Conversely, some students need more parent involvement. If a student has trouble focusing, understanding directions, or actively participating, more parental involvement can help. For example, if Timmy is running around the room and won’t sit still in front of the camera. Just mom or dad’s presence alone could encourage Timmy to focus more on the lesson and create a more effective learning environment. Or if Timmy doesn’t understand the classroom command ‘click’, mom or dad can show him how to click and practice using the classroom command so he can understand what to do in future lessons without parental help.
Again, it’s always important to be patient with students who need more parental involvement. One option to help with this is calling for support during the class. With VIPKid you can do this by calling the firemen and clicking ‘behavior issue’ or ‘other issue’. They may be able to contact the parents and bring them in for help. You can also contact the company after the class on the feedback form again under the section labeled ‘suggestions to student through VIPKID’. Then by clicking ‘more parent involvement needed’ and writing a comment about the situation.
Another way parents are able to interact with online teachers is through feedback. Parents are able to rate you and leave comments. For VIPKid the rating scale is from 1 apple to 5 apples (5 apples being the highest rating). Multiple ratings are averaged to give you an overall rating. You are able to see who wrote the review and reply with comments. Potential students and parents can view your reviews before deciding to book a class with you. Often times this can help boost your bookings. If your rating is low, it discourages new students from booking with you and can also prevent you from getting certified in new classes or working with the company in other ways.
If you have a low rating you disagree with, you are able to summit a ticket to have the rating reviewed. The playback for the class will be watch and the company will message you regarding their decision. If they decide that the rating was unfair or inaccurate, they will discredit it and it will not factor into your overall rating. However, it will still appear in your parents’ feedback section and potential parents will still be able to view it. Again, to avoid low rating I suggest always being patient and friendly in the classroom. It’s amazing what a simple smile will do!
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It is likely that you will have the opportunity to interact with parents while teaching online. Particularly if you are teaching young learners. Use the parental involvement to elevate the learning experience and make the class run more smoothly. If you have issues with parents or their feedback, contact your company for help. They will certainly take action to help improve the parents’ involvement for future classes or to rectify an unfair review. Don’t confront parents in an aggressive or unfriendly way. This could reflect badly on you and may result in a low rating that will affect future bookings. It’s always a good idea to keep your calm and seek help if you think the parent involvement could be better.
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