It happens all of the time. You’ve finally settled in with your new students, school year routine, classroom setup, and materials distribution when new students start moving in. As happy as you are to welcome new faces into your room, it can really throw a wrench into the groove you’ve gotten into thus far.
In years past, my class size has been maxed out, so I haven’t received move-in students. This year, I had a few kiddos move out right before school started, leaving my head count lower than usual. This means I’ll likely be the first to receive new students. I know I need to prepare some materials and plans for when bright new faces walk into my room (sometimes unannounced!). Use these tips and ideas I’ve gathered to help your new students feel welcome and make your life easier!
To prepare for what I believe is the inevitable, I’ve been scouring Google, blog-stalking, and pouring over Pinterest (any excuse to do so!) to gather what I think are the best ideas for welcoming move-in students. Click on the image of my Pinterest board below to see what I’ve collected so far. If you’d like to join the board and contribute pins to it, just email me as indicated in the board description.
Books about move-in student and/or being new and different situations abound. Using such stories as class read-alouds when a new student arrives is not only welcoming for the new child, but a great reminder for your entire class to put themselves in the perspective of the student who is new. These are a few of my favorite books on this topic, but endless others exist for you to choose from.
I think these flipbooks are great, not only for new students, but for everyone in class. I haven’t made them in the past, because my class website is our comprehensive “mother ship” of all things pertaining to our room and I go over that with parents at open house. For NEW students who have missed that introduction, these awesome flipbooks are perfect for their parents (and the students) to quickly reference your most pertinent classroom routines, rules, supplies, and more. You can find various versions of these all over the Internet, so search and find your fave, create or customize your own, print, and assemble. VoilÃÂ !
In addition to the informative flipbooks, new students need LOTS of other materials to get fully started in your room. Supplies, labels for folders and notebooks, forms, subject manipulatives, reminders and more are gathered and placed in a folder, baggie, or other pouch along with the information flipbook to serve as an entire welcome kit for the new child. This pack is more for teacher sanity than anything. I know I struggle with remembering everything I passed out and used for students during the first few weeks, and heaven knows I can never find extras when I need them on the spot! Make a list of everything a child needs in your room to get started seamlessly, make extras if needed, and create three to five bags of welcome packs to have on hand and at-the-ready!
New students often struggle with both getting into classroom routines and initiating conversations with new classmates. Help your newbies get into your classroom groove and make new friends by giving the task of serving as the “Welcome Wagon” to a handful of students in your class.
Brainstorm with the group what they would want help with and need to know if they were moving into your room. Discuss how they would want to be treated and how they could be made less anxious if they were entering a new classroom. Then, make a list of tasks that the welcome wagon will be in charge of once new students arrive. You may even want to type this out and laminate it or put it into a clear pocket sleeve. They will provide support in many ways to new children entering the class.
Let’s face it, when new students move in mid-year, all of the cute “getting to know you” activities are typically over. For teachers, we are fully into the curriculum crunch and feel like we don’t have a lot of time to re-introduce information about ourselves and every member of the classroom because we’ve already done that at the beginning of the school year. However, this is SUPER important when welcoming new students.
To start, check out my post on classroom team building throughout the entire year. Sometimes we forget that such group activities are important beyond the first few weeks of school. Not only will new students benefit, but the entire class will be strengthened if you just take a few short minutes to engage in a quick team-building exercise.
Creating books or cool tech presentations (QR codes linked to videos, PowerPoints, etc.) about you as the teacher, each student in the class, your classroom and school environment, and routines/rules and such is a great way to have informative, welcoming materials instantly ready for new students. By reading the books you’ve prepared or watching the tech presentations you have created, the new students are experiencing much of the instruction and introductions that you already covered at the beginning of the school year.
See a couple of “all about the teacher” examples below and on my Pinterest board. Decide if you want to go high-tech or old-school with your “all about us” information, and then get started creating informative reference tools for these topics:
students in class
school rules and expectations
classroom rules and expectations
your classroom environment
daily/weekly classroom routines