Many of us around the country have been back to school for a couple of weeks now. By the end of August, we’ve developed our routines and reinforced our classroom norms. With September comes the first home football game, spirit week, and…Back to School/Meet the Teacher night! This is a prime opportunity to explain to parents and caregivers how a CI classroom works. What you say and the way you say it tonight will carry far more weight than anything you put in your syllabus or on your class website.
I use to demonstrate a very brief story in the target language, however I never had enough time to explain the “why” behind what we do because parents rotate classrooms every 15 minutes. This is just enough time to cover the information in this presentation and answer any questions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard parents in the audience say, “It makes sense to teach it this way!” to one another as I go through the presentation.
I chose the quote for the opening slide because just about everyone in attendance completes the sentence with some variation of the following:
“…and all I can say is baño, taco, and gracias.”
A majority of the parents of children we’re teaching now learned through the grammar translation method. While they may have forgotten most of what they learned, they haven’t forgotten feeling lost, the drill-and-kill, and the pages of grammar notes in English. I introduce my presentation with this because it lets parents know that, a.) I recognize that there is a problem, b.) I want something more for their children, and c.) I know how to give it to them.
Parents may wonder why their children aren’t bringing home lists of words to study or verb charts to memorize. It’s just as important that parents understand the basics of CI as it is that your students do. Your students (and consequently, their results) will always be your biggest advocate, but don’t miss out on this opportunity to explain how we acquire language to those who are able to attend.
My grades are based on performance of the ACTFL Can-Do statements, so I included some examples of these. If you grade your students with an interpersonal communication or habits of mind rubric, this would be a good time to demonstrate to parents what performance at each level looks like.
Feel free to modify the presentation as you see fit. Do you have any novel ideas for explaining CI on Meet the Teacher/Back to School night? Leave a comment below!