Tips to help a new student feel welcome in your classroom
Imagine being escorted to a classroom and knocking on the door. As you enter, all eyes are on you. It is so quiet that you can hear a piece of paper drift to the floor. The teacher walks over to you and says “Hello! Why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself!” You quickly say you name as your face turns bright red. You take a seat and the teacher resumes the lesson, while you aren’t sure what to do. You slump down and wait for the bell.
If you have ever been a new student, this may sound all too familiar. Being the new kid in school, or even the new kid in town, certainly isn’t the easiest thing for a lot of our students. Not only are they trying to learn how to fit in, but also how to get around the building, how to buy lunch, and how to login to the computer, among many other ‘how-tos’ they will face in that first day! You can do you part and help your new student breathe a little easier with these simple tips.
1. Assign a Peer Buddy
Partner your new student with a student who can help them with the ins and outs of your classroom. Sit these students together in class if you can, and give them few minutes to quietly catch up. I like to pair students that have a similar schedule in order to facilitate continued guidance when navigating the hallways and cafeteria. Be sure to ask the buddy you have in mind first, as not all students may be comfortable with this responsibility. With the right pairing, your new student will quickly feel welcomed!
2. Be a Tour Guide
At the end of your class, take some time to show your new student around the halls. This includes the restroom, locker area, and if possible, the main office and nurse’s office. If you do not have another class waiting on you, extend this tour farther to include other important locations in your school building. This tour will bring some ease to the new student and will also give you two some time to chat!
3. Reach Out to Their Parents
Extend your welcome to the new student’s parents as well. This is often a forgotten step that can be very helpful. Not only is the student new to the school or community, but so are the parents! Introduce yourself and provide any details that may be important about your classroom and school. Just opening up a mode of communication will be sure to make your parents feel more at home. Check out these tips for more ideas to get parents involved in your classroom.
4. Take Interest in Their Interests
Learn more about your new student by finding out what they like to do outside of school. This will enable you to make some personal connections, and give you some information to be able to suggest potential school clubs or extracurricular activities they could get involved with. Perhaps they played on the soccer team in their old town. Set them up with some teammates or introduce them to the coach! Maybe they have a passion for Minecraft. Have them be your assistant for your next session of the education edition! Taking an interest in your new student will make them feel noticed in an otherwise overwhelming day.
5. Give Them a Job
Does your new student look like they want to crawl under their desk? Ask them to help you out with a classroom task. This will add a distraction and make them feel valued at the same time. For example, they could help set up a lab activity or collect other students’ work. While they are helping you out, it opens up some time for the other tips, like getting to know their interests or giving a small tour.
6. Check In Frequently
Most importantly, don’t forget to check back in! The first day may be the most stressful for your new student, but be sure to see how they are doing at the end of that day, the next day, the next week, and so on! Knowing that you are there for them during the long haul is priceless.
The next time you have a new student come to your door, remember these tips! Don’t just rely on the basic introduction; help that student feel like a welcome and important member of your classroom.