Language teachers often work in small departments or by themselves and can suffer from a lack of support. A key ally can be the parents of your students. Here are 2 quick ideas to kick start your rapport with the parental body this year.
The Welcome email
My department has a policy to always email the parents at the start of the year and introduce themselves as the class teacher for the year. These emails are highly valued by parents as it opens up a line of communication for them. Parents have told me that they find the transition from primary school to high school difficult as they are unsure whom to contact or how. In the primary setting, they describe how they were often at their child’s school every day for pick-up so they could meet with the class teacher informally or ask other parents for advice. In the high school setting this face to face experience is often limited to parent teacher nights. The “welcome to the course” email also allows you to outline your experience and generate an interest in the subject. Here is a sample:
Dear year 8 parents,
My name is Liberty Campbell and I am your son’s Japanese teacher this year. Many people feel like they cannot help their child with subjects such as Japanese as they are unfamiliar with the language.
My emails will hopefully help you know what is happening in the classroom. Everyone is busy these days so you do not need to respond, although we love to hear from you. Do feel free to email me anytime though if you have a question. Your son is also encouraged to do so via this email. It is better to ask, then turn up to class unprepared.
For Japanese your son will use the following materials: ….
I did not begin my study of Japanese until I began university, so your son already is ahead of me in his learning at his age! (I actually studied German until Year 10. I moved to live in Japan after university for 4 years and return most years now at least once.) I hope your son will enjoy this year learning about a country that has such an interesting history ranging from ninjas and samurai, to the WW2 conflict. My grandfather was a WW2 POW so I find it inspirational how close our nations have become in a few generations. It gives me hope that greater understanding of our cultures and languages, can eventually help us bridge the gap between nations around the world.
All the best,
Parents can be useful allies but they need some direction as to how they can be of help. We have developed several fliers to share with parents. These cover the following topics:
- How can I help my child learn a language?
- Why is my child learning Japanese?
- How to use the textbook
- Is it too hard to learn a scripted language?
I would suggest that you space out the sending of these over time so as to not overwhelm them. Sending information regularly also keeps your subject fresh in their mind. We have a designated page for parents on our website outlining such topics, as we recognise the positive influence of an educated and supportive parent on student learning outcomes.
You can download PDFS of our fliers from the Parents page on our website at http://www.mantenresources.com.au/parents/
You may also be interested in our post on increasing positivity in your classrooms and staffrooms: