Judy from HEARD

“My first year of teaching was at a school in Queens. None of the children spoke English at home. I was teaching fifth grade, but modifying each lesson so that the students could learn English alongside the academic content. It was a Title I, Title III, “Title everything” school. Connecting with parents that first year of teaching was a faraway thought. I was so beleaguered. I could have told you when the sun set because that’s when I began to think “just another hour or two” before I should ride the train home. Parent communication was not on my mind. It wasn’t something that was encouraged by administration. It wasn’t something my kids’ families asked for. At some point, I realized it was because of the language barrier and the culture of being undocumented: those things change how you interact with your children’s teacher and school. So I brushed up on my high school Spanish and was able to communicate more with about a third of the families. It meant a lot to them--even for me to say “hello, how are you,” smile and indicate that we were in a partnership with their child at the center. That’s when I started to see relationships with families change. That first year left me with one of the most important understandings of my career in education: I couldn’t truly serve children if I failed to collaborate with their caregivers.”

-- Judy, National Board certified teacher