It is funny how a simple change in classification and boundaries can make everything different. I had 28 students throughout most of last year, but the students who made up that 28 seemed to be in constant flux. It probably wasn’t the case, but there were times when it felt like every week I had a student move out and a student move in. Sometimes we had more than one new student join our class at the same time. Or so it felt. I am sure that we actually had a fairly stable number of students and we just had a few new ones from time to time.
But then the district changed the boundaries for the elementary schools, some of the housing classifications within the district change and, as a result, we didn’t have any new students come in since school began! We had two students move away at the beginning of the year, taking our numbers down from 28 to 26. Then another student moved away over the Winter Break, giving us 25 at the start of the second semester.
Today was the first time my class had a student move in, though!
In order to facilitate a smooth transition for our new student, who is coming to us from another country, another culture, and with another language, we took time this morning to talk about ways we can help him transition. I was very pleased that some of the ideas my students came up with were be his friend, be friendly, show him around, help him with classwork, play with him during recess, and help model our routines and procedures. I also suggested that it would be much easier for him to transition if everyone listened closely to directions (something they should be doing anyway) so that he could better understand what I needed the class to do.
The day itself was rather uneventful. Our new student did his best to participate with the class, the students did a wonderful job helping him learn his way around the room and the school, and they did a phenomenal job helping him with what is probably the hardest part of the day for a new student who has never experienced this part of the day before: lunch. Two of my boys guided him through the lunch line, helped him find where the class sits, and included him during recess.
All in all, I think the first day with a new student, for both my class in general and for my new student in general, was a success!