language immersion programs can acknowledge, celebrate, and encourage in uncertain times

April 1, 2020

In our last post, “keeping the addalingua immersion experience, even through school closures,” we shared the ways in which teachers can communicate with immersion students and parents. This post celebrates/highlights the work that teachers are diligently doing to support students and families as schools remain closed. Let’s take a look at three extremely important steps that are having a huge impact on student learning in these unique circumstances. We see our partner schools doing the following in a wide variety of ways:

1. acknowledging the reality – 

Nothing can directly or fully replace teachers’ contact time with students. This means that we have to do our best to be flexible and understanding on all fronts with approaches to online learning formats. What matters most right now is that we (teachers, students, and families) do our best given the resources available, the circumstances in front of us, and the hours in the day. We’re inspired by what we’re seeing.

In this image, Maestra Zondervan of Zeeland Christian School in Zeeland, MI connects with one of her students to offer support with the addalingua syllable wheel. Maestra Zondervan is known throughout this crisis for responding to parents’ needs, and acknowledging that every family’s circumstances are different. She helps parents support their immersion students by reaching out by phone or FaceTime when emails with questions start rolling in! She’s the first to say that, “We’re in this together, and I’m here to help you with whatever your specific family needs.” Those calming statements go a long way in uncertain times.

2. celebrating what’s happening – 

From video lessons to online meetings, to creative ways to get electronic devices in the hands of students, everyone is all hands on deck! It’s true. At times, it feels like we’re “building the plane while we’re flying it.” With all of this movement, it’s important to celebrate the small wins and keep going. 

Check out this kindergarten lesson and observe how Maestra Patricia Kreel of St. Peter’s Episcopal School in Chattanooga, TN reaches her students through YouTube. It’s a wonderful example of how a passion for learning and a love for students can come through on screen. Is it raw footage? Yes. Might there be a mistake from time to time? You bet. Is it engaging? Absolutely. Is it tied to addalingua program expectations? 100%. One of the things we like best about this approach is that these videos are viewable from any device (computer, tablet, or smartphone), which means that it might be more accessible for students and their families. Furthermore, it’s not “busy work.” It’s meaningful practice! Forget about your worries of making mistakes your first time with online/filmed teaching and go for it, teachers! You’re rockstars!

Don’t forget. Even though online learning might be new, there are some things that don’t have to change! For example, communicating with families must remain a priority! Check out this newsletter snippet from the team at Calvary Christian Academy in Ft. Lauderdale, FL! They know that throughout this experience, maintaining a sense of normalcy is helpful. Their program is keeping their weekly newsletters going so that parents can feel confident that assignments and recorded lessons during the week align to the school’s goals. When families have questions, they have something tangible to turn to.



encouraging one another

If you’re a teacher feeling worried about how to do this the “right way,” grant yourself some grace, and reach out to a trusted colleague for support. If you notice a wave of emails coming from your students’ families, schedule some time to talk with them personally to reconnect and to clarify in order to calm the stress levels. Teachers are trained to differentiate best when they know what’s going on. Let’s be here for each other, learn from each other, and remember that humility always wins. This is a brand new experience for everyone, which means we ALL must adopt the stance of a learner willing to adapt and shift.

This recent social media post from Directora Iliana Vásquez of Holland Language Academy in Holland, MI illustrates her team’s efforts to be present for students and families. Pinpointing targeted time to support one another is critical as everyone navigates this new reality. Cheers to all of the teachers and school leaders making themselves available to support students and families!

You’re doing great things, teachers. We’re seeing it every single day. We hope that, no matter what lies ahead in your school, community, state, and the nation, you know that your work is important and valued. Remember:

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” -Francis of Assisi