Fostering parent-teacher collaboration

Establishing a clear line of communication between parents and teachers paves the pathway for student success. As a parent and former teacher, I believe the key to effective collaboration is setting expectations as clearly and as early as possible. Spending time connecting with parents individually, learning more about their child, and setting expectations leads to a more effective relationship throughout the school year. Let’s take a look at a few ways that IXL can help foster this collaboration.


Focus on student progress

All too often, communication between parents and teachers is focused on grades. I recommend reframing this conversation to focus on student progress! Each student’s needs and goals are different, and their unique path towards growth is what we’re all invested in—both as parents and as educators.

IXL can support these conversations in a few ways. IXL’s SmartScore is designed to measure each student’s current understanding of the skill, which will grow over time as they learn the concept. The SmartScore even adapts to learners as they grow, making questions easier or harder based on their current understanding of the topic!

You can explain to parents that a SmartScore of 80 represents proficiency, which is a great goal to reach. When students feel comfortable with an extra challenge, they can aim for a SmartScore of 100, which shows they have completely mastered the skill. 

As a teacher, I loved using IXL Analytics to show parents how their child was progressing through our curriculum. This handy guide highlights three reports parents can use to see what their child has been doing in IXL, check for assignment completion, and look for areas where they may need help.

Plus, the Progress and Improvement report shows exactly how much their child has learned in each skill! And if you use the Real-Time Diagnostic in your classroom, you can show parents their child’s current grade level proficiency, as well as how much they’ve grown over the course of the school year. 


Identify trouble spots

A common question I received as a teacher was: “how can I help my child at home?”. My suggestion was always to check out their child’s Trouble Spots report. This report pinpoints the concepts a student is struggling with, down to the exact questions they’ve been answering incorrectly. These are the perfect questions for parents to use when reviewing with their child! For additional context, they can even dive into their child’s Questions Log, and work with them to correct their mistakes.

Plus, I recommend showing parents the in-skill recommendations that appear at the bottom of each skill. If a student is really struggling with a concept, they can always review these building block skills, which will help solidify their knowledge and confidence before they return to the task at hand.



Extend student learning

Both parents and teachers want to make sure that learners are challenged at the right level, especially in areas they’re excelling in. To extend student learning, you can tell parents about the Recommendations wall and have them encourage their kids to use it at home! Each student’s personalized wall will always be full of the exact IXL skills they’re ready to learn next. There are five different types of recommendations to help meet students’ needs. Consider having students select from the “Go for Gold” or “Next Up” skills if they want a challenge! 



Build connections with parents

Students learn best when their network of parents and teachers are all working together to support their growth. There are plenty of technological resources to help keep the lines of communication open! While email and messaging are super convenient, I’ve found that a phone call tends to be the most effective. 

When I was a middle school teacher, my educator team had a goal of speaking to each parent over the phone every quarter. We would each call the parents of 2-3 students per week, and rotate each quarter, to ensure the parent spoke with every teacher on the core team. 

You may also consider hosting a virtual open house on a video conferencing tool (like Zoom) to discuss and reflect on the previous quarter, as well as provide parents with a preview of what’s coming up.

If you offer office hours, I recommend creating 10 minute increments for parents to sign up for a virtual conference (Calendly is a scheduling tool that makes this easy). You can use this time to provide parents with a more personalized toolbox of strategies to support their child.