It’s the inevitable e-mail. You’re halfway through the school year and you get an e-mail from you’re admin titled “new student”. I know what you’re thinking, another student?! By this time of the year most of us are exhausted and starting to get a little burned out (if you aren’t, tell me all your secrets). BUT, because we are amazing teachers (pats self on back), we start to prepare to welcome them with open arms.
Have the student come visit the classroom. If at ALL possible, this is super important, especially with our students! I like to have the student come in when my other students are out at specials so that they aren’t overwhelmed by lots of little bodies. This gives them time to look around the room, check out where their spot is, find their cubby, and meet you as the teacher 1 on 1! After the student has some time to look around and the parent asks you any questions they may have, it’s a great idea to stop by specials where your students are (don’t forget to let the specials teacher know ahead of time!) just so the new kiddo can meet his/her new friends before leaving! I recently did this when my students were in PE and it was great because the new student was able to play with my other students for a few minutes!
Call the parent. This has nothing and everything to do with the child. You want to start the parent/teacher relationship off on the right foot before your new student even begins. Give the parent a quick call, introduce yourself, and answer any questions they might have! This is also a great time to invite them in to visit the classroom like I stated above!
Give them everything you give your students at back to school night or open house. Welcome letters, classroom expectations, all that stuff you hand out at open house should go home with your new students. These papers have all kinds of important info that your new student & their parents need to know! Things like snacks, extra clothes, library books, sickness rules, etc.! They will NOT know this info unless you give it to them! I always save a set of these handouts in my desk…just in case!
Make sure they have their own space. Make sure EVERYTHING you use with student names in your classroom is updated. Your new student needs to have their own cubby/locker, seat/desk, name for attendance/lunch count…you get the picture! It might be easy to forget to label their locker, but this can make such a difference! You want them to feel welcome from the minute they arrive at school.
Teach expectations. Once your new student starts at school, it is SO important to reteach all of the classroom expectations, schedule, etc. It never hurts to teach it to the entire class, who couldn’t use a little “brush up” mid-year?!
Reinforce your classroom. Changing schools in the middle of the school year is SO hard for any kid, but especially our students with special needs! Your new kiddo might not want to come to school for a while. One way to make sure they get used to their new environment and the adults in your classroom is LOTS of reinforcers. Make it fun to come to school and show what they know!
Take some 1 on 1 time. Yes, you got an IEP from your student’s former district. Should you believe everything in there? Absolutely not. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten an IEP for a student that was just SO OFF BASE it was unreal. Try your hardest to not make any snap judgements on their behavior or academic abilities and find out for yourself! Have your paras run some centers for a few days to give you some time to sit one on one with your new student to figure out what they know, what they don’t know, what types of reinforcers they like, all of it! It will take away from your instruction for a few days, but will be SO worth it in the end.
These are just a few ways to help ease the transition of a new student into your classroom! What other things do YOU do to welcome a new kiddo?! Let me know in the comments!