Communidad y Consejos, Dual Language Back to School Advice from fellow DL teachers!

For our back to school edition this year, we wanted to ask you, our fuerte dual language community what your best advice is for getting students back into the swing of things. We had responses from around the country, and we are so excited to share with you what dual language teachers from around the country do to get their students ready for the new school year!

Dalila Rabsatt, Public School 133 -The William A. Butler School. Located in Brooklyn NY, Dual Language Coordinator and Instructional Coach:

The new school year always brings about butterflies in everyone’s stomach. Parents, students and teachers all feel the same excitement and nervousness during this time of the year. My best back to school advice for parents is to motivate their children for the beginning of the school year by having conversations about what they are looking forward to, whether it be seeing their old friends, meeting new ones or getting to study their favorite subject while learning new things. Parents’ whose children are beginning Kindergarten, should expect a whirlwind of emotions. Just know you are not alone. Your children will pick up your energy so stay calm and take the lead from the teacher. By the end of the first week, drop off becomes a smooth process. As students progress through the grades it gets easier for parents and they become less anxious which in turn gives them the ability to ease their children for the beginning of the year.

Some things parents can do is:

  • Communicate with the school about important dates for “Meet the Teacher” events or curriculum night. These are some opportunities for parents to become familiar with the teacher’s expectations as well as curriculum themes to be covered throughout the year.
  • Volunteer to be a Class Parent and be involved with the PTA. This allows you to be a liaison between the school and the parents and it keeps you informed about what what’s happening in the classroom.
  • Once teachers have shared the expectations for the year, parents can help to transfer these expectations at home by establishing routines. For example, first graders are expected to make the greatest leap in reading levels so it’s important for students to read at home and parents should monitor their reading by listening to them read out loud and asking comprehension questions about what they’ve read. In fifth grade, on the other hand, students are preparing for middle school so it’s important for parents to begin allowing their children to become more independent and responsible for their homework and assignments.
  • If parents have concerns about their children special needs, they should reach out to the teacher at the very beginning in order to establish a clear line of communication.
  • Children who are participating in a Dual Language Program will have the benefit of learning a 2nd language while enriching their native language. All children will learn appropriate grade level content while developing their bilingual proficiency. Parents can help develop their confidence by having playdates with other families who speak the language. Playing games, reading books, watching videos or TV shows in the second language can also help increase fluency and build the L2 repertoire.

Students can also get ready for the beginning of the school year:

  • Ensuring they complete any assignments given at the end of the previous year to bridge the gap between the grades.
  • Writing an “All About Me” letter to their new teacher describing all the special things they want their teacher to know about them.

Most importantly, school is a place where students spend most of their time. Be prepared to do the work but don’t stress and have fun. Find someone who you can talk to when you need it whether it’s a friend, teacher, or a guidance counselor.

Continue reading to find out more information about back to school advice from around the country…

Sophia Quiroz, N.B.C.T. 1st Grade Dual Language Jenks East Elementary Jenks, Oklahoma

Best advice: When you decide to sign up your child in a dual language program, you’re in it too. It’s a commitment! Parent involvement is key to a child’s success. Join them, be close with your child’s teachers, ask questions, be an involved parent. It’s okay if you don’t speak the language. Immerse yourself in the language and culture by reading with your child, watching shows with your child, exploring the cultural opportunities your city has to offer, and listen to music. If your child witnesses your passion for learning, they’ll be just as passionate. Most importantly learning a language, discovering a new culture, and loving the benefits that come with it should be fun for you and your child. It’s the best investment you can make!

Mia Damiani, Principal, Eastmark Seqoia Pathfinder, Mesa, AZ

This is our first year implementing dual language in Kinder!

We are a dual language/STEAM school

Best back to school advice for parents and students:

Set small academic goals for your children (any age), keep a chart of the goals to show progress.  Setbacks are ok! It is a great opportunity to teach students how to problem solve through adversity! Identify the cause and move forward!

Kristin Montgomery, La Follette High School in Madison, Wisconsin, Spanish Language Arts/DLI classes (pre-AP) generally for 9th and 10th graders but open to all grades.

My advice to parents would be to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher right away and let them know any concerns or tips you have for working with your child. It is always helpful to know this information in August and often at the high school level we don’t meet parents until conferences two months into school. In addition, as the year goes on work with your child to advocate for themselves. Encourage them to talk to the teacher about that quiz they didn’t do so well on or the assignment they had a question about instead of you contacting the teacher for them. Together we can help students become independent learners.

For students that don’t speak the school’s target language at home, know that it can take some time to get back into it after a summer away. Try to ease in by chatting with friends, listening to music and watching movies a few weeks before summer ends so you’ll be ready to go on the first day.

Patty Fernandez, Kyrene Elementary School District in Tempe Arizona, World Language Coordinator.

My advice is for students and families to value both languages at home. For instance, speak, read, listen to music, watch movies in English and the target language. Find opportunities to expose their children to the target language outside of school. Attendance is crucial for students’ success. Dual language is a rigorous program and students who are constantly absent or late miss learning activities that cannot be replicated at another time. Participating in Dual Language requires families to make a long-term commitment in order for students to have the opportunity to reach a high level of proficiency in the target language.

Ray. R Kenney Mill Creek Elementary School, 2nd Grade Spanish Dual Immersion Teacher, Mill Creek, Utah, my advice: don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek advice or help from your teachers or AD.

Eastmark Sequoia Pathfinder STEAM/DL School

Continue reading to find out more information about back to school advice from around the country…

Faby Rodriguez, 3rd Grade Spanish DLI teacher at Smyrna Elementary School in Smyrna GA.

My advice to parents to prepare for back to school is to not stop reading with your kids during the summer. Reading should always be promoted, being on vacation doesn’t mean to stop reading. If you are on a trip, let your children take a book with them. Also, don’t forget to read in both languages, you can always get books in Spanish from your local library to keep the exposure to both languages. This allows your students to prepare and be ready to take on new learning adventures.

Students, your teachers are very excited to meet you. I know you are nervous about your new teachers but believe me they are nervous too!!!!! So, relax, and keep up the good work on becoming bilingual.

Maira Guzmán, Dual Language/ESL Resource Teacher at Gomez Heritage Elementary in Omaha, NE.

My best back to school advice for parents and students is: -Get in a routine -Talk about the school day to know what the students schedule is like (parents can share their own to model). Show your student you’re interested in their learning. -Have students share one struggle they had in school and practice asking for help -Share one interesting fact you learned or best part of the day (parents can share their work experiences as well) and find ways to connect to everyday life – Get involved, whether it’s students joining clubs or parents volunteering at school or being a part of the PTO/PTA – Get enough rest – Check backpack for any upcoming school events/ assignments/permission slips – Get to know the parents of student’s friends and use as additional support – Read with child or listen to the child read (if parents are unable to). Practice making language connections between English/Spanish (dual language students) -Make bilingual labels to use at home -Students should share homework with parents and explain what you are learning -Encourage making a friend and/or one kind act each day -Talk about empathy (providing possible scenarios)

Gomez Heritage School had over 100 father/father figures attend their Daddy-Daughter Dance this past spring!

Paola Mendizabal, Saunders Elementary. Newport News, VA. 3rd Grade Spanish Dual Language Teacher. I teach Language Arts science and math in Spanish. I partner with another teacher who teaches Language Arts and social studies in English. We both share 2 classes, about 35 students. what my best back to school advice is for parents and students: Do your best to attend your school open house so you can get to meet your teacher. Greet your Spanish teacher in Spanish. Also, if possible bring your school supplies to open house, this is very helpful for your teacher. Parents: come to open house prepared, ready to ask questions about classroom management or best way of communication. Also, be present and engaged, the teacher will probably give you a lot of information. If you’d like the teacher to know something special about your child, don’t be afraid to let them know.

Gomez Heritage’s 4th grade folkloric dance group “Norteñitos” perform for families during their school carnival.

We are very appreciative to all teachers who participated in our Comunidad y Consejos article! Stay tuned for more community collaborative articles in the future! We love honoring our dual language programs from across the country! Good luck on getting ready for back to school, have fun, and most importantly- appreciate the opportunity of being bilingual!

Patricia Griselda Pérez
Author: Patricia Griselda Pérez

Dr. Patricia Pérez holds an A.A. from Ohlone College: B.A. and M.S. degree from California State University, East Bay and an Ed.D. from the University of San Francisco. She serves as an educator, consultant and teacher coach, which provides professional development, curriculum development and multicultural awareness services to local and international educational institutions and corporations. Dr. Pérez is fluent in Spanish and began her career as an elementary school teacher in a bilingual classroom. In the past two decades, she has developed a wide range of experience working at every level of public education, providing support to educators and directly to students. Her interest focus on promoting educational excellence through equity in order to overcome institutional barriers that confront underserved students of diverse backgrounds. Dr. Pérez is also an accomplished writer and has published in the areas of multicultural education and organizational management and leadership. She is a contributing author to Multicultural Education in Practice: Transforming One Community at a Time and Collaboration and Peak Performance: A Multidisciplinary Perspective for Emerging Leaders.

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