Let me set the stage. School has been in session for a few months now. Your students have settled into a routine, formed friendships, and continue to learn how to work collaboratively. Everyone is aware of the classroom procedures and expectations. As the instructor, you have hit your stride and developed a rhythm. And then it happens . . . you are informed that you are getting a new student. If you are one of the lucky ones, you are given a heads-up so that you can prepare for the student’s arrival. (I would like to think that this is the norm and not the exception!) If this is not the case, hang in there. For either situation, help is on the way.
I am currently mentoring a first year teacher in my building, Jaslyn Carter. She was recently informed that she would be receiving a new student. During our regularly scheduled weekly meetings, she mentioned this and was wondering how to make the transition not only easier for the new child, but for her class as well. Her inquiry made me pause for a moment. If she was wondering about this, were there others who needed some direction as well? So, here are my tips for making a new student feel welcome. Feel free to click on the images and print out the material.
Keep it simple. Before you put away your September handouts and information packets regarding routines and procedures, pull out a couple to have extras handy. If and when a new student arrives, you will not have to search for these materials. Having packets nearby will save time and assist you in your talk with your new arrival. Here's a snapshot of what I have ready if needed.
Here are two different views of my Getting-to-Know-You activity sheet that I use with my students.
Reading homework instructions Class Incentive Plan (adapted from My Classroom Economy)
Each student receives a student information handbook. They are able to refer to it as needed.
Assign a student who is extremely reliable, as well as familiar with the goings on in your classroom to support the new student as they adjust to your class and school. If you are a homeroom teacher, see if one of your students has a similar schedule to the new student and would be willing to accompany them to classes. Having someone to guide the new student through their new environment can go a long way towards putting them at ease. This should be purely voluntary on both students’ parts.
Future Student Ambassadors
Being the new kid can be overwhelming on many levels. The student might have questions and concerns that they are uncomfortable sharing with the entire class. Invite the new student to join you for lunch as a way of letting them get to know you. Side note: My co-teacher and I did this last year with everyone in our class. Each student had the opportunity to join us for a “Getting-to-Know-You Lunch.” The students and I, along with Ms. Grass, got to learn about each other.
Not only does the new student need to become familiar with the expectations in your room, the parents do as well. Reach out to the parents to let them know the ins and outs of your classroom. Keep the lines of communication open.
Pearls of Wisdom — Remember that the new student will need an adjustment period. It will take them some time to become accustomed to their new surroundings. Rely on your nurturing classroom community to help with the process.
I hope that you found these tips useful. Stay tuned for my next post when I focus on how to welcome non-English speaking students.