The First Day
The school system in Newfoundland and Labrador is often significantly different from that of the
ESL student's home country. Some simple steps can help ease the transition. See links below
for more ideas.
Make one staff member responsible for introducing the student to the school
Provide time for that individual to get books, computer passwords, lockers etc. for the
Have a fellow student, along with a translator, give the student a tour of the school in
their own language.
Make sure the student understands the rules and procedures of the school before
sending them off on their own. Have a staff member or dependable peer review (ideally
a fellow ESL student with the same first language) ALL the school expectations with
As much as possible, inform teachers of the student's background, language level and
situation/goals, while respecting confidentiality.
Assign a peer helper (“buddy”) to answer questions, review rules, help find classrooms
etc. for the first couple of weeks. This task should be assigned to an academically
strong, motivated, and welcoming student who will be a good role model for the
Permit the ESL student to “shadow” their peer helper or another student (perhaps from
their home country) for at least a day before starting classes to become familiar with the
rules and procedures of the school.
On the first day that the student starts to follow his or her own schedule, permit the peer
helper to spend the day shadowing the new student on his or her schedule.
The First Day
This three-page article outlines ways to make an elementary student comfortable in your
classroom. It suggests some resources that may not be readily available (e.g. bilingual
books), but many others that are, so feel free to pick and choose.
Pages 40 and 41 of this comprehensive document Many Roots, Many Voices give some
suggestions for welcoming students on the first day. This document was produced by
the Ministry of Education in Ontario, which has the largest numbers of ELLs in the
country and produces some excellent resources.
First School Day
Page 6 in this document, prepared by the Department of Education in Newfoundland
and Labrador, presents a few ideas specifically for the first day.
Activities for Newcomers
This 3-page article provides some suggestions for the first few days of school.
First Day Teaching
Pages 19 to 21 in this excellent book The More-Than-Just-Surviving Handbook list five
good ways to greet new students.
© 2010 Eastern School District
Information and content by Martha Trahey