Advocacy has always been on the top of my to-do list thanks to biting my nails each spring wondering if my program will get funded for another year. However, the time to start convincing people that Spanish should stick around is NOT right before they make that decision but throughout the entire year, starting before even the first day of school.
Before school starts...
Our PTA sponsors an ice cream social every year a week or two before school starts so that the kids can meet their teachers, hang out with their friends, and have a cold treat. It's usually at a local park so it's very low-key and informal. But it's also a great time to introduce myself to parents and answer any questions they might have about the Spanish program. It's also a great opportunity to have my kiddos show off what they remember. Nothing is better for your program than your students actually speaking the language!
Back to School Night is another chance to meet parents and families. Our students can bring drop off their school supplies, meet the teacher, have their parents fill out the mountain of required forms, and check to see if their desk is near their friends'. Unlike at the ice cream social I'll be prepared with an infographic with Frequently Asked Questions about the Spanish program and why early language learning is important. I'll also have Spanish Club forms ready so kids can sign up early if they're interested.
And once school starts...
-Greeting students and parents in Spanish on the first day (and every day after that!)
-Sending home newsletters with what we're learning and cultural events in the community.
-School-wide art projects in the front hallway showing off what we're learning in Spanish to anyone who comes in the front door.
-Organizing Family Nights such as Culture Fair or Hispanic Heritage Night.
-Making community connections (like having local dance instructors come in and teach salsa.)
-By planning and delivering engaging lessons that make my students excited to learn.
-Never give up and never stop talking about your program and your students.
Also check out my post The Cart as Advocacy.
How do you advocate for your program? Share your ideas below or on Twitter using the hashtag #earlylang!