TalkingPoints is a Game Changer for Parent Communication
Ms. Nerstheimer is an ELL Teacher from South Kingston, Rhode Island, who found TalkingPoints while looking for resources online to support communication and home/school collaboration with her non-English speaking families. She used to teach at a dual immersion school that had many translation resources available, including bilingual and trilingual teachers, but this year, she started teaching at an elementary school with a small ELL student population and limited means to reach immigrant families. When she found TalkingPoints, she thought it was a game changer. This is what she had to say:
TalkingPoints has been a game changer for me. As I embarked in a new role this school year, I felt like I was making strides in helping learners gain English, but I knew little about their home life or their families. When I found TalkingPoints, I was able to immediately connect with families. Having quick communication in the language of the home open the doors for allowing me to work with families and make better connections with my students. Many families quickly became comfortable using this style of communication and we have built partnerships for supporting their children.
I signed up for TalkingPoints, and began using it cautiously at first. I added a few of my Spanish and Arabic speaking parents to test it out and ask for their feedback. I wanted to make sure that the text messages were easy to read and well translated. Families really liked receiving text messages from me and said the translation quality was great. After hearing this, I went and added the rest of my class. It took about 10-15 minutes to add over 20 students. It was so easy!
I have newcomer families arrive throughout the schoolyear. I have made it a practice at our first meeting when they arrive at school to set families up on TalkingPoints and show them how to use it. It’s great how I am now able to start communicating with families right away. I use TalkingPoints to share individual messages with families, share out school news and even make announcements about school events and families reply and text me questions in their native languages. It is quick, efficient and truly allows families to engage with me in ways that were so challenging in the past.
One of my Chinese-speaking parents texted me recently about Easter. She had heard about how other children from school would be hunting for Easter eggs. She reached out to me to find out all the details about community events and what exactly was involved, as this was not something they had experience with in their culture. This was a fun text message to receive and I was happy to help her and her son get out and enjoy their new community.
I’ve told other teachers at my school about TalkingPoints and showed them how to use it. I look forward to helping other teachers make this part of their practice. As I move forward using this technology, I will be working to organize my class lists so that I can share students with their classroom teacher to make reaching out to parents even easier.