Welcoming Families From Around the World
There are moments within everybody’s memory which are so alive as alive as a video on the You tube when you hit the icon ‘play’. My years of experience as a teacher are one them in my mind. I can vividly remember when I was a teacher and teaching in the international preschooler in Muscat, Oman. The range of my students’ ages was about 2 until 3 years old. The children came from the expatriates families who worked in oilfield industries, therefore children from around the world were gather in my class at that time. Among the twelve children in my class, sometimes it would end up with nine or ten different nationalities of the children! What an amazing experience, as a world united in learning in my classroom everyday!
One day I was informed that soon in my class another new girl would come and join in my class. A girl from Thailand. Well of course, I know where Thailand is, I have visited that country once, and even Thai food became my favorite food until now, but was it a guarantee that I would easily understand about this new girl in my class? How was her cultural background, how she would communicate to me as English was her second language, what was her need, how she would overcome the separation anxiety with her parents to adapt in her new environment in the class? Many questions were already queuing in my mind long before the girl arrived in my class.
Finally, the day had come that she arrived in my class, accompanied by her father since her mother was working as an engineer in the oilfield industry so her father was the one who became the ‘househusband’- a stay at home father. The little girl a typical Thai girl, very pretty with the straight black hair so smooth as smooth as silk, and she was very shy and timid. Her father said that she spoke Thai language, and maybe understands a little bit English, but passively.
I realized that her father was a great key to find out all of the information about his daughter and how to make her comfortable in my class right after the father left. So I tried to make a list of things I should do when I meet the Thai girl and her father in the other day.
1. I need to make sure that I will give her a great first impression from the first time she entered my classroom. A friendly greeting is a must and I need to make sure to mention her name correctly because maybe she had a Thai name that I am not familiar with. I need to remember her name correctly because it was her very important self identity and I need to make sure she feels comfortable with me in my class.
2. I need to ask her family, in this case is her father, for information about his daughter. How many children in the family? What was she like? What language that she used in her daily life? Did she understand English yet or not? If not then how she would communicate the essential, need such as hungry, thirsty, toilet, food etc. The more I interacted with her, I found out that she understand that vocabulary above, but only in Thai language. Then I asked her father to write down in the paper these words in Thai and its translation. Therefore, I became learning Thai vocabulary a little bit and when she communicated with me in this language, I would not get lost in translation!
3. I recognize, understand, acknowledge and respect each child’s individual cultural learning styles. Therefore, if for the first day when she entered my class and she was still a little bit quiet, I considered it as the way she adapted in her new environment. Her first days entering a new environment without tears and said goodbye to her father was a great achievement that I celebrate with her and her family. I keep communicate her positive achievement to her family so she will be more confident to be in my class.
4. From day by day I need to keep on communicating, constructively talk with her father or mother when they came to my class about how was their daughter at home after school, what she told you about school or any specific development that I need to know so I can use as a key to build
5. I need to encourage and celebrate with her for every achievement she made in order to be settle in my class. I keep communicating to her parents as well how her progress in the class was. I also keep on emphasizing on the positive things she already achieved as well as made a further target according to her progress in the class. Until now I still remembered her timid, enchanted smile every time I gave her a sticker because she was such a good girl in the class.
Ohh, this memory recalling on my teaching method in the class was really make me miss my students ….. that I believe now have already scattered everywhere in every corner of the world, together with their parent’s assignment in their oilfield job.
I know maybe they will not even recognize me if we meet someday, but deep in my heart I just could wish that someday I will meet them again….
Well, it is a small world after all……