Who knew how much could change in a year? With classrooms going remote throughout the country, educators are faced with having to figure out what may have been seen as impossible, like holding inclusive virtual back-to-school meetings. But, we are in a season of making the impossible, possible.
Before scheduling a meeting for your diverse school or district, there are some things to consider to make sure your meeting is inclusive regardless of English abilities.
Hire Experienced Simultaneous Interpreters
Although many interpreters may not have experience with virtual interpretation (we’re all learning in this new world!). There are interpreters who have experience providing simultaneous interpretation. This is a specialized skill, so it’s important to ask someone if they are comfortable with this task. If they aren’t comfortable providing interpretation in a meeting in person, they may struggle online.
Remember -- for meetings over two hours, plan on having two interpreters!
Provide a secondary audio channel
Once you have the interpreters hired, you have to make sure the right set up is in place for the call. Some conferencing tools (like zoom) have features to enable interpretation. However, they can be costly and complex. You may already have access to everything you need! Check out this infographic that will walk you through an effective set up for holding inclusive virtual back-to-school meetings.
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Provide materials to the interpreters in advance
You can do a lot to help Interpreters prepare for the meeting. If there is an agenda, slides, or other materials, it’s great to share that a day or two before the meeting is scheduled.
Provide Translated Materials
You can really help facilitate inclusive communication by providing agendas, slides, and support materials in their language.
Inform Speakers that there will be Interpretation
If you have multiple speakers in a meeting, make sure every speaker realizes there will be interpretation provided. They should ensure their talk, slides, etc. are culturally appropriate and inclusive. Also, they can be prepared for speaking a little slower, pausing when needed, clarifying some points for the interpreter as they go along.
Give room for input from the limited English speakers in the meeting
Some meetings allow for comments/questions from the audience. Make sure to instruct participants on how to communicate their questions and input through their interpreter.
Let everyone know that you value their contribution
It goes without saying that families, regardless of their English proficiency, care about their kids and want to contribute. By providing interpretation and allowing space for participation enriches the whole school community.
It’s a new world on how we accomplish inclusive virtual back-to-school meetings, but keeping the big picture in mind can build a community that will contribute solutions now and going forward!
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”-Nelson Mandela