Thursday, August 12, 2010

Welcoming New Students

welcome In Out of My Element from Informania by Fran Bullington, she asks,
“What else can we do to put our patrons at ease and help them feel not only welcomed, but at home in our media center?”
Our students will start in our district next week and teachers start this week. This had me thinking about what I could do to help students feel welcomed and at home in my classroom.
I think it is scary for anyone to start a new situation and new classes can overwhelm many students. I think by acknowledging this for the students can go a long way. Many teenagers would rather die than admit this but knowing that the teacher understands may help them feel better.
I think it is important for students to know who I am and a little of my background. This goes a long way to establishing a rapport with them. I let them know that I love hiking and many times throughout the year, I share my hiking adventures with them. In the same light, I show interest in what my students like to do. I had one student who loved skateboarding and he shared pictures and videos with me. By doing things like this, I was able to show my students that I cared about them and that being a teacher wasn’t all about the paycheck.
I like for students to tell me about any brothers or sisters they have and where in the line they are. Are they the youngest, oldest, or the only child? Sometimes that tells me a lot in how I will deal with them throughout the year.
I also go over the layout of the school. Even though some of the students don’t need this, the new ones do and some may need it but be too embarrassed to ask. I explain where the restrooms are in each hall as well as the library, cafeteria, main office, and administrators offices. I keep a map posted in the room so I can refer to it if necessary.
I talk about the different people and their names that the students may see frequently. If pictures are available, I even show them pictures from the yearbook. I remember going a whole year one time and not having any idea what the principal looked like!
I also go over routine procedures for everyone. This includes paying any school fees, cafeteria lines (I enlist the help of those who have attended previously). There are many things we take for granted that everyone knows and I remember when I was a 10th grader at a new school and didn’t know a lot of these things. I didn’t want to ask anyone so I tried to watch what everyone else was doing and muddled through but it was an anxious time for me.
Usually the first week of school is very chaotic and the daily bell schedule is adjusted. Homerooms are longer and classes are shorter so I post the bell schedule on the board for students (and myself) to refer to often. I also encourage students to find me if they become confused and can’t figure out where to go. Knowing that I can be a safety net goes a long way into giving new students some comfort.
What do you do to welcome new students to your classroom? Please share!
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original image: 'India - Sights & Culture - 027 - Chalk & flower welcome drawings' by: McKay Savage


M-Dawg said...

Here are a few things that I do:
*I always stand outside the classroom door and greet students (not just on the 1st day but every single day) with a smile or a high five.
*Never assume that students know each other. I usually play a few name games and getting to know you activities. It also helps me to learn the names faster.
*Go over rules. Never assume that the kids know what every single rule means. Ex: plagiarism.
*I have students fill out a student info sheet. Not only does it include contact info but also questions about their learning styles and what activities do THEY enjoy.

loonyhiker said...

@M-Dawg These were great ideas. Thanks for sharing these!

cornerstone university said...

Maybe the problem is just culture shock but first day of school is really exciting. New friends, new environment, new instructor, and new learning.