Monday, August 15, 2016

Please Welcome Lindsey Usiak

                                                    About Lindsey

Hello, Awesome Teachers!
   My name is Lindsey Usiak and I’m from good old South Florida. I started out my career as a publishing professional for one of the nation’s leading tabloid magazines. I liked my job but I didn’t love my job and I knew I needed a change. I took a day off to volunteer in my sister-in- laws kindergarten classroom and at that moment, I knew what my new path would be. I left my publishing job the next day and immediately started taking steps to become a certified teacher. I started subbing at every school I could get into, and worked really hard while I was teaching in those classrooms. This helped me build up a great reputation which then landed me an interim teaching position. From there, I was hired at a nearby school to teach kindergarten. Over the years, I have taught kindergarten, 1 st grade, 2 nd grade, and ESOL k-5. I love everything about teaching and would never want to do anything else! Currently I am a teacherpreneuer who is on an extended maternity leave. I miss being in the classroom dearly and can’t wait to get back but my own little munchkin needs me around at the moment.

The Importance of Effective Communication Between Teachers
and Non-English Speaking Parents in The Classroom

   We’ve all heard the phrase “communication is key” but in our classrooms today not only is communication key, it is vital to the success of our students.  With the number of ELL students on the rise, we have growing number of parents who themselves have limited English language skills.  What can we do as teachers to bridge this gap and increase successful communication between parents and teachers? Below you will find some great tips on how to make non-English speaking parents feel welcome in your classroom and your school.  By doing these things you will not only increase communication between yourself and the parents of your students, but you will also make these parents feel comfortable about participating in their child’s education. 

Learn A Few Phrases in The Native Languages of Your Students
   Simply learning how to say hello, good bye, good morning, welcome and a few other phrases in the native languages of your students and their parents will go a long way in making them feel comfortable communicating with you.  For example, at my school, the majority of our students had native languages of Spanish and Creole.  I would always make sure to greet my parents with a simple “bienvenido” or “bienvenue” when they came in for open house, parent conferences, or other school functions.  They always appreciated my effort and your parents will appreciate yours as well.

Provide Important Classroom Materials in Multiple Languages

   When I first started teaching, I did not understand the value of translating my important classroom materials, such as open house welcome packets, field trip forms, conference request forms, weekly newsletters, etc.  Some of my students that came from homes where English was not the first language would frequently not return forms and notices I sent home.  When I asked them why they have not returned their forms and notices they said that their parents didn’t understand them so they threw the papers away.  From that point on, I made sure to have any vital information translated for my parents.  I encourage all teachers to have your school language facilitators translate any important information you are sending home.  When I started translating my classroom documents, I received several thank you letters from parents saying that they are thankful I am going the extra step because they felt like they were missing out. Now, let’s be honest, I had to get all of their letters to me translated to English but in the end, it still put a smile on my face knowing that these parents felt included.  I also saw a rise in parent involvement in the classroom once I started translating things.  This parent participation greatly benefited my students.

Secure A School Language Facilitator for All Parent Conferences

   This is a must do!  If you are going to hold a parent conference, make sure you have an interpreter there who speaks their native language or reschedule the conference for a later date when you can have one present.  Most schools have a language facilitator but if yours does not, see if you can find another teacher to help translate.  Not only are you taking time out of your day to have this meeting, but the parents are as well.  You can show that you value them, their time, and their participation by simply having a translator ready to go.  Furthermore, during the conference, make sure you speak directly do the parents and not the interpreter. This will make them feel like you are communicating directly with them.

A Few Final Thoughts

   In the end, I could go on and on about things you can do to help increase communication between you, the teacher, and the parents of your non-English speaking students but these are a few good pointers to start with.  In my personal experience, I have learned that the more comfortable the parents and the students feel communicating with you, the more successful the school year will be for everyone!  Just remember, showing even just a little bit that you understand the language barriers these parents and students face, will go a long way!



Back to School Open House Flip Book (with translated covers) 


  1. Great advice! My school is a split of Spanish, Urdu, Bengali, and Uzbeki. The last three are especially difficult because they use a different alphabet! Unfortunately translators are scarce and I wind up using a relative.

  2. These are great ideas! I especially like the idea of learning/using a few phrases in different languages. I'm sure students and families must find this comforting. It makes them feel like you value their culture! Thanks!

    Real Life in First Grade


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