A simple tradition can make a
big difference for Latino students.
Analizabeth Doan Woolfolk
One day, my son Daniel came home from kindergarten and told me, “I can’t go back to school anymore because my teacher doesn’t like me. How am I sup- posed to learn if she does not even care
if I am there?”
I was surprised. I had thought that Daniel’s
school was a perfect place for him. It was the largest
bilingual education English/Spanish elementary
school in Arizona at the time, and Spanish was his
first language. I was a 3rd grade teacher in the same
school, and his sister was in 5th grade there. I even
had a sitter in the neighborhood, so he didn’t have to
wait at school until I was finished with my teaching
assignments each day.
What’s more, Daniel’s teacher was a friend of
mine, and I knew she was a phenomenal educator.
She had learned Spanish as a second language and
was a strong proponent of teaching the whole child
and honoring young people’s private voices (their
home language and casual speech) and developing
their public voices (academic language and the
language spoken in formal settings like clinics and
offices). She was thrilled at the opportunity to build
children’s academic skills in at least two languages.
But for some reason, Daniel did not want to go
back to school.
Outside the Classroom Door
Sometimes, children don’t quite know what’s making
them uncomfortable or unhappy, and we adults
have to figure it out. I wasn’t sure what was going
on, but I had an idea. My classroom’s windows faced
Daniel’s classroom door across the courtyard. The
next morning, I watched as students walked into
And I saw the problem right away.
The classroom management training we teachers
had attended at the beginning of the school year
had stressed that we should greet our students at