The Multilingual learner (ML) population is steadily increasing in U.S. schools. Navigating new educational environments can be challenging for MLs, especially on the first day. This study draws upon data collected during two improvement-focused evaluations and is guided theoretically by the extant ML literature as well as Bronfenbrenner’s (2005) bioecological model of human development and Bandura’s (2018) concept of human agency in social cognitive theory. Mixed methods were used to identify the strengths and opportunities for improvement for two school districts’ ML programs. This article draws mainly from the data collected through student focus groups. Through the high school MLs’ stories of resilience, we learn the first days of school are the most challenging for newcomers. In addition to sharing their initial encounters, the MLs provided their recommendations for U.S. educators. By understanding MLs’ initial experiences in U.S. schools, educators can create more welcoming environments for such students.



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