Need an innovative idea to engage and honor your multilingual families? Viana Armstrong joins me on this show to explain a virtual concert she and her colleagues held in her district as well as other ideas that are paying big dividends this year.
Viana is “retired” but her knowledge from her years as a classroom teacher, university professor, and education leader won’t let her stay out of the education world! She is currently serving as the Bilingual and ESL Coordinator in Ferris ISD. This is a rural district with a large language learner population. Almost all of the Multilingual Learners are Hispanic. The diversity in Ferris makes Viana’s role very important as Ferris looks to engage and honor their families.
You can listen to the show on your favorite podcast app or right here:
One of my biggest takeaways from this interview is the profound effect we can have when we engage our families and honor them outside of classroom time. Viana had the idea of bringing a Grammy-award-winning musical act, 1,2,3 Andres, prior to Covid and it proved to be a wonderful experience for the families of their language learners.
So in the year of COVID, Viana wasn’t going to let a virtual environment stop her from providing this beautiful experience again for the families of Ferris ISD. She gave a special Shout Out to Dr. Melinda Domain, Assistant Superintendent in Ferris ISD. Viana explained that Dr. Domain is always supportive of the ideas that will support special populations like our Multilingual Learners. That kind of support is critical to have wins like this!
The conversation with Viana really had me reflecting on what is MOST important during these challenging times. She talked about using technology in this way allowed Ferris to be culturally responsive and also to give them a sense of ‘normalcy.’
One of the most powerful things she said is that they gave the community the message that it was worth it to them to take the time to do this. YOU ARE IMPORTANT. That is what I heard.
We know how to close gaps if any of our students missed education this year or had setbacks because of the pandemic. But we are going to do that MUCH more easily when our families are in partnership with us…when our students feel honored…and when all students are engaged and want to be at school. Family engagement is more important than ever!
Viana also shared about a program she has used for many years to support parent involvement and parent support. Viana has been a Practical Parent Educator and she had wonderful things to say about the program.
In her experience over many years with the program, she tells us that it is affordable and powerful. It s flexible and also offers resources in English and Spanish. The curriculum is ready to use or you can modify it easily for your purposes. For example, she shared that Ferris ISD is pushing out “Quick Tips” for parents right now and planning their return to in-person classes for parents again.
Viana has been a friend and an inspiration for many years. I’m not surprised that she spoke about the power of her PLN and mentioned Tan Huynh when she talked about how we are all learning from each other on Twitter.
I highly recommend that you add Viana to your PLN. This show is only a small example of the ideas she shares on Twitter to support her educators, her community, and her global professional learning network.
Thank you again, Viana, for sharing with us!
Please reach out to let us know what other ideas you have for family engagement that might be a little out of the box. We’d love to hear them and share them forward.
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Take good care!