If there is one thing this pandemic has taught us, it is that teachers are incredible, innovative, and have superpowers. How else can we explain the amount of work they're able to get done during one 24 hour period?
So once a teacher is finally able to plan a school trip and get it approved, is it any surprise that their number one concern is how they'll find time to share the information with parents?
If you choose to work with a Student Travel Consultant like NationsClassroom, your first step to reaching parents is by hosting a parent meeting.
Oftentimes, a NationsClassroom representative will travel to your school to give a presentation to your parents and answer any questions (check out our guide to Planning an Effective Parent Meeting for more details). Because most states have moved classes online for the remainder of the year, we've switched to providing Virtual Parent Nights through Zoom. Here are a few pieces of advice for holding an effective parent meeting virtually.
1. Start Communicating with Parents Early
The earlier parents know about the meeting, the more likely they'll make time to attend. Our suggestion is to start promoting the meeting close to a month in advance so parents have time to put it on their calendars.
Send the Invitation Email: Make sure parents know it's virtual, and send them the date and time in an invitation email. This email should include an RSVP link for parents to "register" for the meeting (you can use Google Forms or SignUpGenius.) By having parents, you're able to plan follow-up emails more effectively.
The 'Don't Forget' Email: A few days after your initial email, make a list of parents who still haven't signed up. Send a brief email reminding them to sign-up before the meeting.
The Reminder Email: Depending on how far out you begin promoting the meeting, you may want to send one or two reminder emails once parents register.
Send the Zoom Meeting Link: We would suggest holding off on sending the Zoom Meeting information until the morning of the meeting so it appears at the top of your parents' inboxes! The meeting link should be enough, but you can also include instructions on how to access the meeting through the Zoom call-in feature.
2. Know Your Settings
If you're working with a NationsClassroom representative, they'll make sure everything is set up properly before the meeting. Here are a few settings to take note of:
Enable Waiting Room: This feature will keep all participants in a virtual 'waiting room' before the start of the meeting. Once the meeting time arrives, your host will 'admit' everyone in the waiting room at once.
Mute Participants Upon Entry: At the beginning of the meeting, all participants will be muted. They will not be able to manually un-mute themselves until the host allows them at the end of the meeting. This means you can control noise as well as when questions are asked.
Enable Co-Host: If you have a larger group, your representative may grant you 'co-host' abilities during the meeting. That means you and the representative will have the ability to monitor participants and admit late-comers into the meeting.
3. Be Respectful of Time
The tour operator's presentation typically lasts 15 minutes. They'll review everything from the itinerary, inclusions, security, and payment plans. The remaining time is typically used for questions from parents or students. Allow about 15-20 minutes for questions, and then wrap up to respect everyone's time. If there are more questions, they can always call our main office or email after the meeting has finished.
4. Email Copies of the PowerPoint and Registration Form Afterwards
After the meeting has finished, make sure to email out copies of the PowerPoint presentation and registration forms to all attendees. You may also want to send it out to parents who weren't able to make it so they have a chance to register as well. Your Student Travel Consultant can send you shareable copies of everything you might need.
Thank you teachers for all the hard work you put into teaching our students, especially through technical difficulties and ever-changing schedules. When you're ready to learn more about leading a school trip, check out one of our itineraries to the National Parks, Florida, or Historic East Coast.
What advice do you have for hosting meetings through Zoom? Are there other platforms that are better options? Let us know in the comments!
Originally published May 2020, updated September 2020