January 30, 2023
While the calendar may tell us it is a new year, it is the middle of the school year and the start of a new semester. This is also a time of year that families may transition to a new location or a new school, so there is bound to be a shift to your student roster.
You may also teach a one semester class, so a complete overhaul in your roster is on the agenda.
These can cause a shift in the dynamics of your classroom by introducing or removing new players. This can also mean a shift in teaching if you teach thematically, or if they may not have been up to the same pacing at their prior school as your classroom is.
Before you stress, let’s talk about some of the things you can do to prepare in advance for these transitions. The bonus is, these can also be at the ready for the beginning of the year!
WELCOME KIT This is something that can be made in advance and several copies kept on hand. This should include your welcome letter home, some activities to do to get to know them and what they know about your content.
LETTER HOME Include a brief description of your classroom syllabus, expectations, how you do things–if you can make a video with a QR code, even better! Then they can see you and you can give them a tour of the room and them around. Keep it brief–under 5 minutes is best. Also include information on how they can contact you, how to check grades, what to do if they are absent, etc.
SURVEY This should be about the student. What name do they go by, who do they live with, how do they like you to communicate with them in class, at home, contact parents, interests, and what they think you should know about them.
PHONE CALL/CONFERENCE Within the first week, make contact home! Introduce yourself, ask if they got the welcome kit and letter, if they have questions and what you can do to help with the transition. Make sure you both have each other’s contact info, whether that’s email or a Google voice number for texting/calling (never use your personal one, keep life separate!).
WELOME TEAM Creating a welcome team at your school or classroom can be a great way to have a unified plan across the campus for when new students come in, especially if you live in a transient area. Inviting students as ambassadors to show them around, especially those that have been new students themselves, can really help create an inviting and helpful bond as they adjust, even having lunch bunch meetings to talk about how they are adapting or issues they may be dealing with and need help with, or even an intervention. Let them attend these as long as they need to and allow them to decide when they no longer need the support.
DON’T DO’S Whatever you do, don’t make the student feel like they are under a microscope. Avoid the introductions publicly, the forced sharing. It’s awkward enough being new, this can make it worse. Creating opportunities for them to interact is different and okay, just don’t force them into it in the first day.
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