Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tilting at (Non-Imaginary) Windmills

You know what's depressing? The "achievement gap" is depressing. It's the kind of thing that makes me want to put my chin on the table and just...sigh. But instead—in one of your Nesting Ground Mistress' typical Don Quixote moments—I decided I would recruit friends to help teach our Spanish-speaking Kindergarten parents (many of whom are not literate in any language) letter sounds, beginning and final consonants, blends, and sight words. To teach them, in other words, the things their children are learning in Kindergarten. My logic was that regardless of their own level of schooling, our parents could learn these basic things. And that by learning these things, they could help their children—at least to some extent—with reading; or they could, by example, show their children that reading is important; or they could realize that by partnering with their child, they can help their child to be more successful; or etc. etc. etc.

My hilarious pal M. jumped aboard, as did two of my go-to, bilingual outreach moms, L. and E. We dove into this project thinking of it as something we HAD to do, SHOULD do, and COULD do. What we didn't realize is that it would be...pretty fun. It's fun to create an atmosphere where parents don't have to feel shy about yelling out letter sounds (and believe me, we make them yell)—even if they're the wrong sounds. We create said atmosphere via our willingness to be as ridiculous as possible. M., for example, pretends to be a dj scratching vinyl to demonstrate the sound of "w," or Tarzan swinging on a rope for the short "o." And I whip out my high school Spanish for comic relief and to prove that I will readily climb out on a limb if they will. Throw in some donuts, coffee, and fruit, and you've got one helluva morning.

So I don't know if these workshops will amount to much when it comes to bridging the achievement gap at our school. Maybe? Not likely? Yes? I'll keep my fingers crossed. Or shall I say it?...dedos cruzados. *laughter ensues*


Carl said...

Bravo to you! I agree with your premise, and hope it holds true.

ver said...

Thanks Carl! For now all I can truthfully claim is that we're doing no HARM...