Guest post by Lori Wolfe, Fun to Teach
August is here and it is time to prepare for the new school year.
If you have second language learners in your classroom there are many things you can do, before school starts, to welcome families and students back to school!
Many second language learners and their families come to school worried and fearful. Educators know that reducing tension in second language learners is essential if academic and language progress is to be maximized. Teachers can lessen trepidation by welcoming and engaging ELL students and their families in a variety of ways! Many of these strategies can be done before school begins. The first step is to start with the family! A welcoming classroom can make all the difference!
Here are some simple strategies that will go a long way in welcoming your second language learners and their families into your classroom and into the entire school.
MAKE A PERSONAL CONNECTION WITH FAMILIES:
Start the year off on the right foot by welcoming students and families before school starts. Introduce yourself by mailing home letters, making a phone call or a home visit. When contacting families make sure you let them know how to contact you if they have any questions or concerns. A simple friendly introduction goes a long way to breaking the ice and extending a welcome to students and families.
Click here for a short friendly welcome letter in English and Spanish.
CREATE A WELCOMING CLASSROOM:
Establish a warm and supportive classroom with a welcoming environment to families before the first day of school. Families entering a friendly culturally vibrant classroom on the first day realize that they and their child are valued members of the school community.
Here are a few ideas to choose from to get started:
- Try displaying a world map showing the countries of the families in your classroom
- Label your supplies in more than one language
- Post flags from around the world that represent the diversity of your school
- Arrange a tour of the school before school starts
- Have a variety of alphabets from around the world on a bulletin board or pictures of families around the world
- Position posters with WELCOME in many languages on your wall
- Ask one of your parents to be a bilingual greeter at your classroom door the first day
- Prominently display books in a variety of languages
- Have a simple bilingual message on your phone
DO SOME HOMEWORK!
Take some time and get to know your ELL students and their families! Check files to find out some basic facts about each student. It is so important to value your students and parents as people by caring enough to learn their names. Do not hesitate to ask how to pronounce first and last names correctly. Practice till you get it right! Know how to say welcome in the native language. Are there siblings who attend the same school?
Remember a little can go a long way, so start now and welcome families and students to the new school year!
Here are some helpful links to get you started: