Communicating with Parents at Open House

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by kcbutterfly, Jun 9, 2006.

  1. kcbutterfly

    kcbutterfly Companion

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    Jun 9, 2006

    I will be a first year teacher in Kindergarten next school year. I'm nervous about open house. A lot of the parents of students in my class will most likely not speak English, or not be very fluent speakers. Has anyone dealt with this? Their first language would be Spanish. While I have had some Spanish courses including one in college, I am definitely not comfortable conversing with native speakers. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
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  3. HannahB2

    HannahB2 Companion

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    Jun 9, 2006

    Does your school have a Spanish teacher?

    Maybe she could help you translate.

    Let me know how it goes.

    =] Hannah
     
  4. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Jun 9, 2006

    What about the students??? who supports the spanish speaking students in the school? I would think a social worker and/or ESL teacher would be able to help you out. What has been done in the past? How do you usually communicate with these parents?
     
  5. WITeach

    WITeach Cohort

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    Jun 9, 2006

    Try to use as many visuals as possible. I always have a slideshow up that has pictures of the kids from the first few weeks of school.

    Instead of doing some kind of a presentation where you are talking, maybe you can have the parents/kids do a scavenger hunt around the classroom. You can write the clues in English and Spanish and also use pictures to help.

    You could also have a letter already prepared with the procedures of your classroom or other information that you are going to present that day. You could do this in both languages, as well.

    Hope this was helpful! :)
     
  6. flteacher7

    flteacher7 Rookie

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    Jun 9, 2006

    I can relate...

    Hi there! I am a first grade (wait...I have to get used to saying second grade) teacher. I taught first for 6 years and am finally "graduating" to second grade!

    Anyway...I moved down here 6 1/2 years ago from NY and went into exactly the same situation that you will find yourself in a few months. I am usually one of the designated "ESOL" or "ELL" or "LEP" (depending on what acronym/phrase your state uses for students learning English) teachers, where most of my class are not native English speakers, with a few students who only speak English. But they are all at different stages - some enter not speaking any English, while others speak both languages very well.

    First a question about the open house - will you have it as a "meet the parents/students" type of thing BEFORE school starts or will it be a little while into the school year. This would defintely make a difference. I had always heard of open house about a month into the school year, and you would be able to use concrete examples of your students' work in order to communicate better with the parents. If the open house is before you have met them or the child, my answer would be a little different. Our school does open house before the year starts, so I'll tell you what I do and then give some ideas if you open house is after schoo begins. (Does that make sense? Sorry - I'm tired!!)

    You will be suprised at how your high school/college Spanish will come in handy. I, too was not comfortable speaking in Spanish, but with practice I have improved greatly! Anyway, make sure to have a little newsletter to give to the parents highlighting the rules, procedures, supplies, daily schedule, etc. and have either your guidance counselor, ESOL specialist, assistant, or anyone else billingual translate the letter for you. I always give parents that speak two languages (or primarily Spanish) the newsletter in both English and Spanish. Have this ready for the open house so that you can give it to the parents and point to the sections on the different things.

    I would also suggest purchasing a book that has phrases and words specifically for teachers. I have two of them handy, so I'll give you the titles:

    1. Comments for Report Cards and Notes Home - Spanish and English. This is published by Carson Dellosa (ISBN # 0887242715). If you read it through, it has things that you can use in parent conferences, notes to the parents, and is divided into sections by subject - it's very easy to use. I also like that in the front there is a list of vocabulary words by subject in English and Spanish)

    2. Teachers' Messages For Report Cards: English/Spanish Edition. This is published by Fearon Teacher Aids, a division of Frank Schaffer Publications (ISBN # 0866539972). I LOOOOOVE this book because in the back it has lists of approrpiate adjectives (friendly, enthusiastic, talkative, etc.) and also 158 phrases regarding their work and progress. THIS IS A MUST!!!

    Anyway, back to open house. Practice with a billingual friend, teacher, person at a store (for me this is easy living in Florida!) a few phrases such as "nice to meet you," "I look forward to working with ______ this year," and "this letter has all the information about our class." I'd write it down in Spanish, but it might be easier to hear it from another person orally.

    Let the parent and the child look around the room, and often the child (if he/she has attended pre-k or socialized with other English-speaking kids) will be able to translate for you. This is often the case in first grade, when the child has already gone through a year of kindgerten. I know someone has suggested having someone translate, but it is likely that the billingual assistants, guidance counselor, or ESOL specialist will be working throughout the school, and would not be able to stay just in your room.

    Even though you're nervous (and I still am) about communicating with parents in Spanish, they will appreciate the fact that you try. Often once I start speaking the parent starts talking a mile a minute, and I have to ask them to speak a little (or a lot!) slower. It's a little strange, but a few times I've had parents come in and not really say much, and then I try to talk to them in Spanish, and then they try talking in English. Many times we say that we are going to "help each other" learn the other language. It's a nice ice breaker.

    If the open house is after you have had the student in class, use work samples to show writing, math, and other projects. As for reading, you might have a graph or some other visual representation of the child's reading level as compared to where he/she should be for the grade. I do DRA reading assessments with my students and then graph the results, and I show the parent whether the student is where they are supposed to be, or below or above grade level. I show this to all parents - not just the parents who speak a different language! :)

    You also can find out ahead of time which parents speak Spanish, and have a little notecard ready with a few phrases about the child in Spanish (get help from someone who speaks Spanish to make these). It's easy if the student is on grade level or above and is well behaved. For students that are struggling or need help, you might suggest to set up a conference and then have someone be able to translate for you.

    Well, I could go on and on, but don't want to put everyone to sleep! If you would like any more information or ideas or suggestions you can reply by or send a personal message and I'd be happy to respond. GOOD LUCK!
     
  7. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Jun 10, 2006

    Not specifically an Open House answer.... but my mom teaches a lot of students whose parents are primarily Spanish-speaking, but all the school paperwork is in English... she has her assistant translate when necessary, but they all haev someone at home who can help them understand the papers... anyway, she has developed a system with some of the parents that she puts particular mark (smiley, star, whatever) in the top left corner of papers that are important or that have to come back to school (field trip notices, conference notices, lice notices, etc)... this helps those parents who can't necessarily read all the coorespeondence to know what's actually important. ;)
     
  8. ppax

    ppax Rookie

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    Jun 11, 2006


    I have had this in the past (but only 1 set of parents at a time typically). My new best friend is the google translator. Go to google.com and look on the right side for the link "language tools". This option will allow you to type in your english, and it will translate it to spanish. I translate basic procedures and info. for parents (and add a sentence that the computer is translating for me so errors may be present). Run your translation by someone who speaks spanish if possible. Their student may be able to help also.
     

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