I have a new student in my class today. Yes, it is almost the end of the school year. 35 days left if you're wondering. But this family is enrolling their daughter in kindergarten next year and since I have half preschoolers this year they thought they'd get her used to the idea of school now. I have to admit that yesterday when the school secretary told me she would be starting today, I was a little concerned. I have a challenge already with teaching such a diverse group of students. Some are already beginning to read while some are still barely putting two sounds together. And now I would have another one who I knew nothing about. After I thought about it, though, it's not such a big deal. One more little body to line up and keep track of and pass papers to. And besides, whatever she learns these last few weeks will be helpful for next year. Then this morning she walked in with mom and dad close behind. I showed her where to sit and gave her a writing practice paper like the other students were working on. I could tell that both she and mom were a little nervous. But as I introduced her to the class, D., one of my most challenging boys, said, "Welcome to our class, A." How sweet is that? I think it really helped A. and her mom feel more comfortable. The other girls were really nice to her, too, and included her right away. And I can tell that she will do just fine in my class.
But what really got me was when she came over to me to ask a question about her paper and her little hands and voice were shaking from nerves. As soon as I saw that, I started staying close by her so that she felt more comfortable. I talked to her and told her what we would be doing next and patted her shoulder. Because all I could think about was Julianna in 3 years. What if it was Julianna walking into a classroom of strangers and me nervously leaving her there? What if it was Julianna whose hands and voice were shaking? What would I want that teacher to do? Well, I'd want her to stay close and talk to her and pat her shoulder. I'd want her to do whatever it took to make her feel welcome and comfortable. So that's what I did. And for the next 35 days, A. will be a part of our class. And I'm happy to have her.