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How to Cultivate Stronger Family Connections

Building relationships with the families of multilingual learners may be uncharted territory for new teachers. Monolingual educators may fear that the perceived lack of common experiences with parents of English learners will hinder connections. But ultimately empathy isn’t contingent upon sameness, but rather the time and effort invested in understanding the uncommon ground.

Rosalie Metro, Assistant Teaching Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Missouri-Columbia, recently joined us on the Highest Aspirations podcast to share some valuable lessons she learned when she became a parent of an EL.  She also offers some of the family engagement strategies she has developed for her TESOL teacher preparation courses at the University of Missouri.

Some things we learned from this episode:

  • Examples of experiences that allow teachers to build empathy toward their multilingual students and families, including some lessons learned from Rose’s time living abroad and sending her children to school.
  • How to explicitly teach strategies for EL family engagement during teacher preparation courses, addressing common fears like accidentally offending families and concrete steps to remedy those situations when they arise.
  • Understanding cultural differences in education (i.e. that education is valued in every culture but it doesn’t always look the same) and how to navigate these during conferences and conversations with families.

Listen to the whole episode on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Resources mentioned during the episode:


Rosalie Metro is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has taught social studies at the high school level, and currently teaches TESOL classes for pre-service teachers as well as supervising student teaching interns. Metro is the author of two books and has also been researching Burma/Myanmar’s education system and working with refugees from that country since 2001, and does Burmese language interpreting for her local school district.