My level 2 Spanish students are presenting the culmination of a month’s worth of hard work this week. About a month ago I introduced an IBMYP unit on backpacking. Since then students have worked to research and create a 6-day itinerary to 3 different destinations of their choice, one of which had to be outside of the United States.
Although I provided two days in the computer lab for students to conduct initial trip research and later work on their visuals for their presentations, and about 3 days of in-class time for preparation prior to the presentations, the majority of the work was done outside of class.
Today I was absolutely blown away by the quality of their end products. The visuals they created, the hooks they brainstormed, the outlines they worked on boiling down into just 2-5 phrases on 3-5 notecards, together with days of rehearsal resulted in some absolutely phenomenal presentations.
So great, in fact, that I found myself emailing every single parent to let them know what a fantastic job their child had done. I had initially planned to email only a few parents but once I started the positive energy was infectious and I just wanted those parents to hear good news. It was then that I started to think about what parents typically hear – and I fear that it’s all too often something negative, or, potentially worse, nothing at all.
In sending out positive messages to parents now, I am building a rapport not only with my students (who will likely hear through the grapevine how proud I am of them) but also with their parents, who will appreciate the effort taken to reach out. In addition, if later in the year I need to contact with negative news, we will have a working foundation laid and they may be more likely to listen to what I have to say and take it more seriously.
Too often I forget how important the home-school connection is. Parents tell me all the time how their teenagers “don’t tell them anything” – as their teacher, I am lucky that this is not the case for me! I talk with these kids every day and get to know them well, from their strengths to what causes them anxiety. I also see students’ work ethic up close every single day and have insight into how much effort they are putting into Spanish class. Every so often, I need to remember to let parents in on this valuable insight I have into their children. I hope that in return, at some point, parents may provide me with valuable insight from home that can help inform what I do to help their children be successful in my classroom.