That First Experience SOL Day 12

After a few months in our new country, my mama enrolled me in a preschool / pre-k school. I didn’t speak or understand any English, having been at home with my mama and abuelita (little grandma), who only spoke Spanish along with the rest of our family, our friends, our neighbors and our city.

The school in my new town was an old home built in a poor Victorian design with a peaked roof line, across the street from a large park. It had a fence that encircled the entire yard from the sidewalk to the backyard behind the play area. You had to open a tall gate (well for a four-year old it was a tall gate) to enter the yard then climb up some steep steps to the small landing and wait at the front door for one of the teachers to open it for you.

I would stay as long as I could in the car, crying and begging. “Mama por favor no quiero ir, por favor mami!” (Please mom, I don’t want to go, please!) My mama would cry too. “I don’t want to leave you but I have to.” She knew I wasn’t learning English staying at home with abuelita and I needed to get ready for kindergarten. I would finally climb out of the car, slowly close the door and open that gate. I remember it so vividly. I would climb those stairs and wait. As soon as the door opened, my mom would drive off. Those feelings! They rush right back to me – sad, terrified, lonely, and anger.

So when you get a newcomer EL student, please remember that even though you are genuinely excited to have a new student with a different language, they may be feeling completely different. Just so you know I didn’t stay at this school very long. And although it was a short and miserable experience, I am very, very glad that I had it.

Published by

Marcela

Buenos dias! Born in Bogota, Colombia, moved to Nashville, TN at 4 years old, learned English in Kinder, live in the Chicago area with husband and our 3 handsome Colombian muchachos and love being an ESL teacher.

11 thoughts on “That First Experience SOL Day 12”

  1. Thank you for reminding us that we all have different perspectives! Kindness and empathy for all is critical but especially for any students who are feeling fragile!

    Great slice! This …”You had to open a tall gate (well for a four-year old it was a tall gate) to enter the yard then climb up some steep steps to the small landing and wait at the front door for one of the teachers to open it for you.” helped me see your view of the world. Big, scary and so different!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! It says so much about the memory that you were able to remember it in such vivid detail. I read this through my perspective as a mom. My son had a few weeks when dropping him off at daycare was a tearful experience. I really felt for your mom in this post. What a strong woman to drop you off so that you could learn English. You know the rest of her car ride was full of tears also as she drove away from you. This is always a good reminder as we have children in our class that may have some fears that we don’t even know about. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your description makes this especially vivid. Repetition and simple diction like this “I would finally climb out of the car, slowly close the door and open that gate. I remember it so vividly. I would climb those stairs and wait.” really put me in your four-year-old shoes. Thanks for the reminder that students bring their own perspectives to our classrooms.

    Liked by 1 person

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