Sunday, March 14, 2010

Parent Meeting

Last Saturday we had our parent/teacher meeting, Andrea and I were both really nervousabout it and weren't really sure what to expect from it. We knew that there had been some concerns of the parents and that we wanted to help relieve them as much as we could but weren't quite sure how Yuling wanted us to do that. I slept very little Friday night and Andrea said that she hardly slept herself. We woke up Saturday and prepared as much as we could and the before going downstairs we said a prayer together that everything would go smoothly and that we would feel calm and at peace.
Yuling began by talking for awhile and then turned it over to us to talk a little bit about howchildren learn the best and what kind of learning they do... we shared this information,which I find really interesting (sorry it's a lot of reading):

Language Acquisition vs. Language Learning (Judie Haynes)

There is an important distinction made by linguists between language acquisition and language learning. Children acquire language through a subconscious process during which they are unaware of grammatical rules. This is similar to the way they acquire their first language. They get a feel for what is and what isn’t correct. In order to acquire language, the learner needs a source of natural communication. The emphasis is on the text of the communication and not on the form. Young students who are in the process of acquiring English get plenty of “on the job” practice. They readily acquire the language to communicate with classmates.

Language learning, on the other hand, is not communicative. It is the result of direct instruction in the rules of language. And it certainly is not an age-appropriate activity for your young learners. In language learning, students have conscious knowledge of the new language and can talk about that knowledge. They can fill in the blanks on a grammar page. Research has shown, however, that knowing grammar rules does not necessarily result in good speaking or writing. A student who has memorized the rules of the language may be able to succeed on a standardized test of English language but may not be able to speak or write correctly.

Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills

Language skills needed in social situations.
When they are on the playground, in the lunch room, on the school bus, at parties, playing sports and talking on the telephone.
Social interactions are usually context embedded.
They occur in a meaningful social context.
They are not very demanding cognitively.
Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency
formal academic learning.
This includes listening, speaking, reading, and writing about subject area content material.
This level of language learning is essential for students to succeed in school.
Students need time and support to become proficient in academic areas.

Andrea was awesome and took over the talking about the way people learned, and Rosy's mom (who is also a teacher and speaks English really well) was really nice and helped translate for Andrea.

After we talked about how children learned we were each supposed to have a 5-minute mini lesson to share with the parents what their children's daily classes our like. I chose a simple concept: small, medium, and large to teach about. I brought several examples-balls, squares, etc. to have them practice identifying small, medium, and large. When I first stood up I was still really nervous and so decided that I was just going to ignore the parents and talk to the kids (they were nice enough to let them come in during the lesson part). I asked the first question and Yuling told me to stop and then told the parents that they needed to be answering too.

So I tried again and started over, some of the parents started answer but only when they were prodded. Yuling told me that I needed to get the parents more involved so I brought out a small white board and drew 3 triangles of different sizes and showed first that we put an "s" for small, "m" for medium, and "l" for large. Then I drew another set and asked different kids to take it to their parents and have them write the correct letter under the shape. It was funny because all the kids were raising their hands (which they do normally in class) because they all wanted their parents to have a turn. Rosy's mom (the one that translated and knows English) told Rosy to put her hand down because she didn't want to go. It turned out to be fun and it really allowed the parents to see what a class is normally like. So my 5-minute lesson turned into over 15, but it was really good and I need not have been nervous or worried. After my lesson each of the Chinese teachers talked for a little bit and then we got to show the parents the new program that I am in charge of, it's called KMI and it's different activities that work the kids minds. They are really fun and I had several parents afterwards tell me that they really liked it.

Though we weren't excited about the meeting we have heard from several people that it was a good thing that we did, many parents concerns were laid to rest and answered and they were better able to see how their kids learn and that the style of learning is also changing from when they were kids.


  1. I dislike going to the mass parent teacher meetings as much as you dislike presenting at them.

  2. I'm glad the meeting went well! What kinds of concerns did the parents have?