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My fifth grader is a little bit introverted and will probably be hesitant to speak up on Zoom calls, especially with a new teacher. I'm afraid her unique strengths and challenges won't come through without face-to-face time. How will teachers get to know my child when they're only seeing each other on Zoom?

Worried in Wilmington, DE

A photo of Tim.

Timothy Daly

Timothy Daly is the CEO of EdNavigator. He started his 20-year career in education as a middle school social studies teacher and recently took on a second job as the remote-learning coordinator for his two kids.

Seasoned teachers know what they are doing. They have a whole bag of tricks for the beginning of the school year to learn about their new students. You probably remember them from your own school days. “Draw a picture of your summer vacation.” Those tricks won’t be as effective when the teacher is welcoming a class over a Zoom call. While you can expect good faith efforts to have students introduce themselves and learn about their classmates and teachers, there will be some limitations inherent to the online format.

Take matters into your own hands. You know your child best. You were there for the adventures (and misadventures) of at-home instruction in the spring. Communicate proactively and positively with each teacher about your child’s needs so the teacher can focus on meeting their needs rather than sleuthing them out, especially when the teachers are likely to be overwhelmed.

We are here to help. EdNavigator has a simple form you can complete to share information about your child and your priorities for the school year. Where does your child tend to struggle? Was your child in a particularly successful book club over the summer? Are you concerned about making up the academic ground that may have been lost when students were at-home during the spring? This is the avenue to share those things you might normally convey during back-to-school night or during a brief aside with the teacher.

This isn’t about delivering a set of demands. It’s about building collaborative communication between the Home Teacher (that’s you) and the School Teacher (that’s the nice person on the other end of the Zoom call). We recommend sharing the form with your child, too, if you feel comfortable doing it.

“Communicate proactively and positively with each teacher about your child’s needs so the teacher can focus on meeting their needs rather than sleuthing them out, especially when the teachers are likely to be overwhelmed.”