Today we have a guest blogger Sara Boehm, on the blog discussing how to help new students with the transition into their new school.
Starting at a new school after moving to a new home in a new city can be exciting, but it can also be nerve-wracking and stressful. For hundreds of thousands of students across the country, that is what any academic year has in store for them.
As a teacher (and in many cases, the first point of contact for these students), there are many things you can do to help your new students during their first days.
As students hit middle school, friendships begin to take on a more significant role. Your new students are desperately seeking to find ‘their place’ among their peers: finding friends with similar interests and activities where they can shine and grown their talents and passions.
Take a few moments to talk with any new students. Ask them questions about where they moved from and what they like to do.
Introduce them to the class with this information or give them the option of introducing themselves if they feel comfortable.
Knowing their interests and past extracurricular endeavours, perhaps you can make suggestions to the student on clubs and activities they might be interested in trying.
Moving is an exciting time for a fresh start, and a time to try new things. Encourage students with suggestions on where and how to try something new as well!
Finally, seating placement can play a big role in how a new student settles in and acclimates to your class and to the school as well. When possible, try to seat new students next to or near students who you know will be helpful, welcoming, and who potentially share common interests.
The same is true for group work as well. Consider placing newly transferred students with those helpful and inclusive students who will be sure to get them up to speed and keep them on track.
Finding Their Way Around
No one likes the feeling of being lost! Whether or not your school has assigned the new student with a ‘welcome buddy’ to show them around the campus, you should check in with the student and see if they have any questions or if they would like additional guidance.
Most importantly, let your class know that it is their job to make sure the new student is getting around okay, has a place to sit at lunch and gets all their questions answered. Use this opportunity to teach existing students the importance of helping and being welcoming of others who are new.
Identifying Any Gaps in Their Learning
Another critical area that sets the foundation for how easy or problematic a new student’s first months can be is academics. Difficulties in class level placement and/or potential curriculum gaps can make navigating a new school even more challenging.
Students may end up in a level that is too easy or too advanced for them. Be sure to regularly monitor how the child is doing and feeling early on so that you can help to correct any misplacement before it causes issues in the child’s understanding or advancement.
Even if placed correctly, schools (especially across state/provincial lines) may teach topics in a different order, creating gaps in a new student’s foundational understanding if they haven’t yet been taught a topic in one school only to transfer to a new school where it has already been covered.
As best as you can (by asking for feedback from the student or by briefly reviewing any available syllabus or materials from their previous class) try to determine any gaps that exist (the student can then consider private tutoring, self-study, or other relevant forms of catch up).
As a teacher, there is a lot you can do to ease the transition for new students and create a welcoming environment for them. It is equally important to encourage existing students to be kind and helpful to those in new a situation.
In the comments section, share your tips and tricks for helping new students. And from someone who was frequently the “new student” (I was in a new school every year from the 6th through the 10th grade), thank you for all the great work you do in helping out the ‘new kid’ during a tough time!
Sara Boehm is the author of The Essential Moving Guide For Families and other titles in its series. Boehm has lived in the world of corporate relocation, moving 12 times as a child and as an adult. She empathizes with all who are going through the moving process and works with companies and individuals to assist those whose lives are being disrupted by relocation. She received her MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and presently lives in the Los Angeles area and runs Essential Engagement Services.