Happy new year! The beginning of the school year is always a new adventure. Many international educators approach August with excitement, seeing change as full of opportunity: meeting new students, making new friends, exploring a new city and becoming part of a new school community. Many of us are looking ahead to these August adventures, with the butterflies and smiles that accompany the first day of school!
For new students and their families, this adventure can bring another set of emotions: anxiety about entering a new school or grade level, a deep sense of loss from saying farewell to friends, concern about new teachers and classes. And transnational learners, who are navigating school in more than one language, bring an additional layer of complexity to the already daunting task of figuring out who they are. One of my students shared that when she moved to a new school and started learning in English, she felt like she lost her identity.
We can help new students navigate this adventure by building on the wonderful multilingual resources that transnational learners bring with them. Teachers can work with the admissions team to learn about the rich language backgrounds of new families. Tools like WIDA Screener can help identify what students can do, not only to provide English language development support when appropriate, but also to celebrate student assets by sharing them with all teachers. Building Can Do Student Portraits helps to amplify those student voices which may be quiet on the first days of school. All teachers should know about the linguistic, cultural and experiential assets that their new students bring to the classroom, to welcome and to build upon these strengths. Teachers have shared with WIDA how empowering it can be to use the Can Do Descriptors when planning with colleagues, to ensure that all students are included and engaged in meaningful learning, from the first day of school.
At WIDA we are pleased to share the August adventure with you. We are happy to welcome new members to the global WIDA community each month and proud to celebrate the assets of Focus Schools like AIS Vienna. We are excited to share new dates and locations for professional learning, new eLearning developments and new research in our Focus Bulletins. We are looking forward to the new school year, butterflies and all, and all the important work we can do together to serve multilingual learners around the world.
Jon Nordmeyer, Director