Elevating Family Voices in the Classroom


Educational theorist Vygotsky saw learning as a social act, where the dialogue between teachers and students creates knowledge. People learn best through interactions with others, and then that knowledge is incorporated into the individual’s mental structure. In other words, the more collaboration the better!

Not only is it important to engage students in the learning process, but to apply the same enthusiasm to their families. In fact, some of the strategies that teachers already use with students can be equally effective with parents, especially with TalkingPoints.

Engaging students and families has never been easier with TalkingPoints’s two-way multilingual communication system. Together, teachers and families can get to know each other, build interpersonal skills, and foster stronger relationships. See how TalkingPoints bridges the gap between engaging students in the classroom and involving families at home using these strategies.

Allowing “Think-Time”

When striving for equity and inclusion in a room of diverse learners, allowing space for students to develop their responses is crucial. Rather than class discussions being dominated by the voices of outspoken students, it’s best to keep in mind the students who are not as candid, and create an atmosphere to boost their confidence too. For example, if you pose a question to the class, allow for “think-time,” and then spontaneously choose a student to answer.

Implementing “Think-Time” with Parents through Direct Messaging

Family engagement are activities that support children in ways that are interactive, purposeful, and geared toward meaningful learning outcomes (Sheridan et al., 2011). In fact, one fantastic way engagement is fostered is through two-way communication is established between the school and home, where parents can participate in conversations through the use of technology.

Direct messaging and/or announcements on the TalkingPoints for Teachers App is a crucial tool to communicate with parents. Through in-app messaging or text, parents don’t have to respond immediately and the translation is done for them, so they have time to process what the teacher is saying, and formulate thoughtful responses in their home language, and essentially, engage more effectively than in person.

Encouraging Choices

Students can take ownership of their learning by choosing what activity to do–or what skill they want to master–such as participating in choice boards. Giving students the power to choose how they want to learn, encourages them to be more accountable, independent, and proactive about their studies. It also gives them the opportunity to hone their skills at their own pace.

Providing Options through Utilization of Parent Polls

Giving parents the autonomy to choose also, for example, choosing events that are happening at school, creates an equitable space. For instance, let’s say the classroom receives a grant, creating a poll and allowing parents to help decide what it goes toward is a fantastic way to include them; as they are just as much stakeholders in their children’s education as anyone.

“In many schools, communication may be primarily initiated by the teacher; however, schools that establish regular listening sessions with families can help teachers improve their listening and relational skills with families and the community” (Mapp, Kuttner, 2013). TalkingPoints is the bridge of translation between schools and families to help share important messages and support effective communication.

Modeling “Think-Alouds”

Modeling your learning for students affirms transparent thinking and encourages students to reach a conclusion about a subject independently. For example, you could read an article out loud on a current event. Pause and think throughout the article, and then make connections to events from your personal experiences or those of the students. The students can then do the same with a partner, then eventually in small groups, which shows them the importance of reflection and strategizing…but on their own!

Using Translated Caption Videos to Further Class Discussions

On the TalkingPoints for Teachers Mobile app, we have a feature where you can record a video and translated captions in the family’s home language are provided at the bottom.

In fact, this feature supports the Dual Capacity Framework, which was created using research on effective family engagement and home–school partnership strategies and practices, adult learning and motivation, and leadership development (Mapp, Kuttner, 2013). One of the initiatives for family-school partnership include providing families with materials and activities to do with their children.

With the video translation feature, families can utilize the strategies teachers used in class to facilitate discussions at home in their native language. All they have to do is read the captions of the question prompts, and ask the students.

Family members are children’s first teachers, so taking a family-centered approach to a child’s education is fundamental for their development. Despite families’ circumstances, what’s evident is that in the end, parents and relatives really do want to help their children—but they don’t always know how.

This is why TalkingPoints enables schools and education systems to support family engagement by giving families access to information to help their children grow. Together, teachers and families can enhance each other’s capacity to advocate for their students’ success.

Want to learn more?

TalkingPoints’ easy-to-use platform, interactive features, and precise translation in over 100 languages can provide game-changing solutions for bridging the home-school gap for teachers, school districts, and families. Learn more about our services here, and contact us at hello@talkingpts.org to learn more about how TalkingPoints can increase family engagement, improve home-school connections, enhance relationships between teachers and families, and support academic and social-emotional growth for every student.

For updates and news on what we’re up to, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Check out our blog for free resources on remote learning and family engagement and see how other teachers are using TalkingPoints to make a difference in their students’ learning.

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