We all know the feeling … It’s been a productive few months. Your classroom has been set up, your students are settled in and your routines have been well established. Then you get the call from the office and those magical words are uttered, “You’re getting a new student.” Now you have to plan a new student orientation to welcome the new kid!
After all, being the new kid on the block — or in the classroom — can be an incredibly daunting experience. New students are often completely out of their comfort zone on their first day. Being greeted by a friendly teacher who is in control of the situation goes a long way to helping them feel at ease. So how do you make sure you can be all that (and more) for your new charge?
Read ahead for our teacher team’s top tips to help your new student settle in with your class and become a well-established classroom member.
How to Welcome a New Student
1. Prep Your Class(room)
Preparing your students for a new addition to the classroom is a great place to start!
Make sure your kids are aware that the new student might need a lot of help settling in, and have a chat with them about how they can help.
- Who has ever been to a new place where they didn’t know anyone?
- How did it make you feel to be in a strange new place?
- What information might this new person need to know?
- How can we help them feel comfortable in our classroom?
Reading a book about welcoming a new student can also help your class get into the right frame of mind. Here are a few favorites:
- The New Kid Welcome/Welcome the New Kid by Suzanne Slade
- The Brand New Kid by Katie Couric
- A New School for Charlie by Courtney Dicmas
Once your students are ready for their new friend, the classroom needs a few bits and pieces!
Make sure you get your new student a desk and chair as soon as possible and give them a new desk plate or name tag to match the rest. Don’t forget to update any bulletin boards or classroom door decorations with student names and to acquire a tablet or other technical device, including log-in details.
2. Print a New Student Survival Flip Book
To help your new student survive their first couple of days, we’ve created a Student Survival Flip Book. It’s the perfect mix of welcoming and informative, with editable pages for you to tailor to your class.
- A customizable cover you can personalize with your class name
- Special days of school to look forward to
- Information about important people — The principal, admin assistant, cafeteria workers, librarian, school nurse or anyone else your student might need to interact with
- Classroom rules so your new student knows what’s expected of them
- Map of the school — This is a great idea for you to highlight where special places such as the library and gym
- Class schedule so your student knows when to bring their belongings
3 Assign a Buddy
Leaving your friends behind and starting at a new school can be sad. Not knowing anyone can make students feel isolated, especially when lunchtime rolls around. To avoid a lonely lunch break, assign your new student a ready-made buddy!
Make sure you are choosing the right person for the job — ask your class to volunteer to be a buddy for the new student and then choose someone who is:
- Engaged in school life (including lessons!)
Who knows? You may have just set them up with a lifelong friend! At the very least, you’ll give them the confidence to make friends among other members of the classroom at their own pace.
5. Play Get to Know You Games
Icebreaker games don’t just have to be for the first week of the school year! Why not play a few games to help your class get to know their new friend?
Perhaps each student would like to take the time to fill out a “dear future student” letter to let their new classmate know what to expect? They can also fill out a scrapbook page about themselves, and stand up in front of the class and show off their mini-biography to the rest of the class. Your established students may learn something new about each other as well!
5. Assess Their Abilities
Even if you’re given the most comprehensive run-down of all the schoolwork your new student has completed to date, as well as pertinent details about supports, such as an IEP, it can still be a big change for them to come to a new learning environment. You can never be 100 percent sure of their capabilities and understanding until you see it in the flesh. For this reason, it’s important to make formal and informal observations as they participate in your lessons.
Take note of whether or not they are struggling with the pace, lesson styles, content or difficulty of the lessons. They may need a little extra tutoring or homework to help them catch up. Alternatively, you may need to give them some extension work to keep them challenged!
Explore a variety of student progress monitoring resources to use with new and established students!
6. Check in With The New Student
It can be hard for a new student to be honest with the teacher when they are having trouble or not enjoying the classroom, so building a rapport with them throughout their first few days is vital. Make sure they know they can trust you to help them settle in, and encourage them to give bad and good feedback on their learning, their new friends and their new school.
Once your student has had a week to settle into the classroom routine, take them aside for a check-in. It doesn’t have to be a serious affair — invite them to join you for lunch.
7. Meet With Their Parents
The final piece of the new student puzzle is to meet with the new student’s parents. They will likely have missed the open house, meet the teacher night at the start of school, or even parent-teacher conferences, so inviting them for a one-to-one visit is a great way to establish a relationship.
Once the student has time to adjust (a week or so), ask the parents if they can come in for a catch-up. This is your chance to not just introduce yourself, but learn about anything the child hasn’t told you and to make sure you and the parents are on the same page. Give them a copy of your Parent Information Brochure to ensure they have all the necessary information.
Creating a positive teaching partnership with your new student’s parents will help ensure you are setting them up for success and getting support from home as well.