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The purpose of this Teachers Talk Live precast is to highlight some best practices on how to work most effectively with Hispanic families as an educator.

First and foremost, keep in mind that recommendations made here are generalizations that although based on research and experience, can vary due to individualities such as socioeconomic status, nationality and more.  Hispanic parents are very diverse and come from many countries with varied cultures.

With that qualifier out of the way, one of the key points to keep in mind is that Hispanic families dislike impersonal and formal.  Simply sending out newsletters and notes home is not the most productive route.  It’s recommended that you connect one on one with them before you get into the business of their child’s education.  You need to establish that personal trust to get the most cooperation.  Once you have established that personal connection with them, they will be very valuable allies as the school year progresses in achieving your education goals for their child.

One idea I’ve always implemented in my classrooms is hosting a Tostada party at the beginning of the school year.  You assign every parent an ingredient to bring to your party:  shells, cut tomatoes chunks, cut onions, cooked ground meat, cheese, salsa, sour cream and any other ingredient you may want to add to a delicious tostada.  Parents will be happy to attend if you set the date and time when it’s most accommodating to the families.  Tostadas are specific to Mexican-American families but any family can appreciate and enjoy them.  I suppose you could substitute tostadas with any other dish that’s as simple to make and serve yourself as this one.

During the party you want to make sure not to talk shop and just spend time getting to know the families and even answer questions on how the classroom is run. If you don’t speak any Spanish and they don’t speak English, bring in someone from the front office or a friend that will be willing to translate for you.  If not, the students may be able to bridge that language gap for you. Tell them as much personal information as you’re willing to share as many may feel it’s intrusive or impolite to ask.

Oh! and hopefully you’re hosting the party in your classroom, so the parents can bond and acclimate themselves with the space at which their child spends the day.  They’ll appreciate that level of transparency and personal connection.

When setting up conferences and other meetings with Hispanic parents, you’ll want to give them plenty of advance notice and offer some flexibility to ensure participation.  They may have jobs where there isn’t much flexibility.

Extended families are important in many Hispanic cultures so you may see them bring other family and/or friends to your meetings.  This makes them feel more comfortable especially when you may have difficult academic issues to discuss. Extend as much warmth to their guests as you would them.

Many families place the needs of family over individual concerns so this is important to keep in mind as you navigate how to best help your student achieve.  Learn as much as possible about his or her culture and home life.  There may be factors in the home that you need to understand to come up with solutions, along with the family.

Hopefully this is a good start and it will help set you on your way to connecting with Hispanic families for optimum student productivity. Our next episode is precisely on this topic and brings a roundtable of experienced educators to bring in their own perspectives, experiences and ideas.  If you can join us for this live talk on January 27, 2016 and want to listen or participate, reach us at TeachCow.com or email us at teachcow@gmail.com.

If you like what we do, spread the word! Subscribe to our YouTube channel and our iTunes podcast.  Have a fantastic day!

Posted by Oscar Cielos Staton

Oscar Cielos Staton began his teaching career in 1998 while continuing his passion for film production in Texas. He quickly developed an affinity for working with low socioeconomic Hispanic families. "The lives of my students," he says "very much mirror the life I once had as an immigrant in this country in a public elementary school. Actually, I tell them they are lucky because they have other students similar to them in the same classroom. My experience was that of a true minority in the classroom. Only one other student in my class spoke Spanish!" As a teacher, he established himself as someone in touch with the student experience. Nowadays Oscar continues his educational journey with the Teach Cow website and his podcast Teachers Talk Live, which brings together teachers from all over the world for talks on K-12 Education.

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