As a classroom teacher of Spanish, I was told that parent conferences could be stressful. At times, perhaps, that can be true but I never viewed them negatively. How could that be? I looked forward to meeting the parents or guardians of my students and was excited to share what their child was learning. I am enthusiastic about “everything Spanish” and could not wait to foster that love in my charges and their families. Fostering a love of Spanish is important to me, but I also know that my students must meet the goals and objectives of the course while immersing themselves in the language.
Parents and teachers share common goals. I will never forget the mother of a young girl in my second grade bilingual class who told her daughter in Spanish: “La maestra es la segunda madre” (“The teacher is the second mom”). She taught me how important it was to develop a partnership between parents and the teacher and the school. I realized how eager parents were for their children to learn in a stimulating environment and for their children to share what they learned in Spanish class. When asked how the school day transpired, children may shrug and answer in monosyllables, so I prepared a variety of questions for parents to ask their students as a way to begin conversations about Spanish class.
It is the teacher’s role to bridge the gaps between home and school. Parents can support the teacher by sharing background information, expressing particular worries or concerns, and being sure that their children have the materials that they need in the classroom as well as a quiet, organized area in which to work at home. Teachers can support parents by sharing the curriculum, sending “just in time” newsletters, and being available and responsive to parents. Together as allies, parents and teachers can work effectively to support students and give them room to work, thrive, and grow.
Parents often worry that their children will be lost in the shuffle. My goal is to show parents that this is not true and that I value their opinions and their concerns. Together we can achieve the positive goals that we set. We can create conscientious, diligent, and empathetic learners as well as learn from each other.
By Stephanie Fein, Private Tutor