Last night, I did something I would never have ever dreamed I’d be writing about today. I’ll start from the beginning. On Tuesday night, I spoke with a colleague, and the new EL coordinator, Dr. Geniene Delahunty (@GenieneD). She asked me what I was doing Wednesday night at 9. I didn’t have any plans and the next thing I knew, I had said yes to being the interviewee in a mock interview focusing on parent engagement for #ptchat and #ntchat. Part of me thought- what did I just agree to? What if I mess up in front of all these people? Then, I took some time reflect and realized that this would be an opportunity of a lifetime and that I was ready for it!
Wednesday came, and along with it, some nervousness, but also a sense of empowerment. I never thought I’d be picked for something like this, having started tweeting towards the end of January, but I certainly learned that if you make an effort, others will truly notice it. Anyway, (sorry- I am realizing that I type as if I’m talking to a friend) the 9 o’clock hour came and I was ready to go.
I logged onto the Google Hangout and listened to the introductions of people I knew, and many whom I did not. I listened to their explanations of why they felt focusing on questions that address parent engagement was important, the benefits of hiring for dispositions, student and parent voice, and inclusion of multiple groups within interviews. Dr. Jim Detwiler (@JimDetwiler1) discussed how he interviewed based upon dispositions and how parents felt to be involved within the process. It was enlightening to say the least. I learned so much in the first fifteen minutes of the chat, it was amazing!
Then, the interview began. I was asked to talk about my own cultural competency and how that supports engaging diverse families in the community, how I plan to develop a strong family school partnership (communication plan), and a situational question about how I would support a student with breaks in education from Somalia who had come to me in the middle of the year. I focused on discussing the importance of building relationships with all students in order to make sure they feel welcome, wanted, and comfortable. I believe trust is the foundation of success in all relationships. I mentioned attending the Japanese Language Festival within my district and how wonderful it was to engage with my students’ families in an environment that was comfortable for them that also provided the opportunity to learn about their culture. The questions allowed me to be incredibly transparent and I am thankful for that opportunity.
After being asked these questions, parents were also able to ask me whatever they wanted! I had not experienced this before, within an interview, and certainly welcomed the opportunity. It gave me insight as to what parents wanted within a teacher and their expectations of a teacher, which I was able to specifically ask parents about later in the chat. Some of the questions I was asked include: how would you best provide support for students with special needs, what are your strengths and how will you contribute to the team, how do your build your PLN so that you keep learning, have a support system, and stay invigorated, and how do you increase transparency to engage everyone on the same page? For these questions, I emphasized how important it is to build partnerships with parents/guardians. I want to learn whatever parents and other teachers are willing to teach me so I can support all learners. Everyone matters in my classroom and I want my students and their families to be able to feel that from our first interaction. I also mentioned that it is of the utmost necessity to be transparent and genuine in order to build real relationships.
All in all, as you can probably tell, it was an intense, but a great experience. I felt like I was truly able to learn so much and that I could understand how passionate parents are about their children. I also learned how to focus my attention on building these relationships and what other parties want from a new teacher.
I received kudos for knowing that it is okay to reach for resources and knowing that it is okay to ask for help. Another parent, Toni Wade (@ToniTonilynne1), said she would gladly have her children be in my class. I think that was the best compliment/feedback I ever could have hoped to receive! Additionally, Lisa Dabbs (@teachwithsoul) explained to me, and everyone else watching, that we should feel comfortable, as a teacher, to say that, no- I cannot do it all. She emphasized that we should pick what we are passionate about and go for it. It is important to not spread ourselves too thin. She also reminded viewers and myself to make sure to interview the school/district as well. It is important that both parties find the best fit in order to better chances for success. Finally, Julie Pile (@juliepile) gave advice that teachers should not be afraid to ask parents and the community to help, especially with mentoring and career exploration, as some parents may be afraid of curriculum type tasks.
As I said, this experience was so informative and wonderful! I wish I could explain just how much insight I received and how grateful I am to have been asked to be the interviewee, but there are truly no words. So- thank you, thank you, thank you to #ptchat, #ntchat, @Joe_Mazza, @
GenieneD, @JimDetwiler1, @ teachwithsoul, @juliepile, @Elle_Gifted, @sarahdateechur, @kmw1094, and all who were a part of this experience! It is something I will never forget.
If you care to watch the archived video, here is the link: https://goo.gl/LqyU4S
Warning, there might be some skipping! 🙂