"The first thing I’m going to say is that I miss you all a lot. I'm in Argentina now…” one of my former students wrote yesterday to his classmates.
Shortly before our winter break, we welcomed a new student into our classroom and just a couple weeks ago, we had to say goodbye.
He came to us from Argentina, but his stay was only temporary. Having a new student join a class, after the start of a school year, can be traumatic for a child. Have you ever wondered what you'd feel like entering your classroom for the first time? In the middle of the year? How we welcome students says so much about our classroom. I think about that often.
I think about it each time I've greeted new students from Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Venezuela, China, India, and most recently, Argentina.
“Hola, Mi nombre es… Marina Rodriguez.” I say with a smile, while extending my hand for a handshake. “Mucho gusto,” he responds shyly and takes my hand for a quick shake. On the day of his arrival, we were all writing letters to Kate DiCamillo to conclude our reading of her book, The Tiger Rising. I sat beside our new student and talked to him about the letters his classmates were working to write. He scanned the room carefully. I asked if he wanted to write a letter. He looked at me with eager eyes and without hesitation agreed with a, “por supuesto” and a smile.
He wrote and wrote. Almost immediately, I discovered his love for writing. His first writing experience in our class was a letter to his class. In his detailed letter, he shared his experience moving from Argentina to Texas. He took to pen and paper like a fish would take to water and it was beautiful to catch.
After about a month, our Argentinian student accomplished making many friends. His natural charm made making friends much easier than expected. There were silly jokes and serious games of Tag between them. When his time with us was over and we had to say goodbye, there were special bonds, good luck notes, and promises to write.
Today, in a Kidblog post, our Argentinian friend followed through on a promise to his classmates and proved without a doubt that writing has a purpose.