His face just lit up! I was visiting one of my student teachers at the beginning of the week and met a six-year-old boy originally from Iraq. It was his second day in a Canadian classroom. He had never been to school before. His family spent a number of years in Jordan after leaving their home country. The boy couldn’t speak a word of English and the school hadn’t found anyone who could translate for him, since his family does not speak Arabic, but a minority language. Apparently the boy had cried for nearly an hour after his father dropped him off at school in the morning. The little fellow sat at a table by himself looking sad while the rest of his class gathered on the carpet at the front of the room for a lesson.
I went back yesterday and what a difference. The little guy now sat with his classmates for a lesson on Egyptian hieroglyphics. Each child had a sheet with a simplified hieroglyphic alphabet. It showed the Egyptian symbol for each English alphabet letter. Together the class was decoding a message written in hieroglyphics on the board. My student teacher asked for volunteers to come up and write a corresponding English alphabet letter under one of the hieroglyphic letters on the board. After watching two of his classmates do so, lo and behold the little boy from Iraq put up his hand. My student teacher beckoned for him to come up and put the marker in his hand. He looked carefully at the hieroglyphic symbols on the board, looked down at his reference sheet and then painstakingly wrote the English letter A under the correct hieroglyphic symbol. The teacher and his classmates exclaimed and clapped and his face just lit up!
I almost cried. Faced with two alphabets he was unfamiliar with and instructions in a language he didn’t understand, this little guy had the courage to get up in front of a roomful of kids and several adults and take a risk he could write the correct symbol on the board. I thought to myself, “This kid is going to be okay. It might take time but he is going to make it.”