Friday, September 11, 2015

A Warm Welcome

Welcome back! I hope your year is off to a fabulous start. We are all busy welcoming new and returning families and children and working to establish routines. There's a fresh energy in the air! So let's go with it and ask ourselves a few of questions right away to make sure we are meeting some of the specific needs of our linguistically and culturally diverse families:

1. Do I know my students' *real* first names and how to say them correctly? (Read more here.) Simply asking families, "How do you say his name (again)?" or asking a child, "How do you say your name (again)?" helps to clarify. What do your students' names mean? We are learners, too. Learn about Burmese naming practices here to get you thinking:

 2. How will I explicitly support and encourage families and children (new and returning) to continue the use of their home languages? (Read more here and here.) This is something we are learning about together and something for which we all have a role. Please come see me for resources and let's figure this out. Just today, WPS launched a "Bilingualism is a Gift" campaign (WPS staff can check District News!) in our community. 

3. What simple greeting can I learn from families in their home languages to use in the classroom and when interacting with families? Read #12 in my list here about my own experiences saying "As-salam alaykum" اسلام علیکم  to Pashtun families here in Watertown. I've been talking a lot with folks recently about how a smile and a simple greeting in the language of a family goes a long way. What greetings do you know? Let's help each other learn!

What are your ideas for continuing to make diverse families feel very welcomed in our school? Please share.

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