I like to have information about my student’s parents, what is their cultural background, previous experiences with schooling in their country, expectations about their children’s and their own education, previous participation in their children education, socio-economic, and academic level, hobbies and activities they share outside school. These information help me to understand how parents value school, how could they be involved in their children’s school, and how can we use them to support their child education. How has being consistently shown in different researches, parent income and educational level are important in predicting children’s achievement (Klebanov, Brooks’Gunn, & Duncan, 1994; Haveman & Wolfe, 1995; Smiths, Brooks-Gunn, & Klebanov, 1997).
Having this information I could make a plan to familiarize parents with the new educative system, make them feel a valuable part in their children education, and increase their participation inside the school and the academic live of their children.
Also I like to gather information with the student about their expectations in the new school, their previous experiences making friends, understanding rules, following classroom routines, doing homework, and communicating with their teachers. I want to understand what the student sees as his strengths and weaknesses, with what kind of activities or situations he feels more comfortable when he needs to use its second language (small groups, work individual, speak only to a peer, etc), and what are the cultural values, traditions, and previous background he brings to school.
Cummins (1996) has an excellent explanation of the importance of integrating ESL students' cultures and background experiences into your lessons, thereby validating their personalities and identities:
".. When students' language, culture and experience are ignored or excluded in classroom interactions, students are immediately starting from a disadvantage. Everything they have...