What to do When You Get a New Student in the Middle of the Year

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

– Romans 15:7 ESV

At this point in the year, you are settling back into the routines of teaching. Your students know what to expect, and you are at the time of year when a lot of learning can take place between January and spring break. Everything is seemingly going well when a new student enters your class.

Depending on the new student you receive in your class, you will have a bit of a realignment to do with your entire class. The new student needs to feel welcomed in the school, and in each classroom. This is a big change for them, and if managed well, this can be a great experience for the new student, and the rest of your classroom. Today, we will look at some ways to help your class and the new student become adjusted to your school.

Prepare Your Class For Their Arrival

If you know ahead of time that you will be getting a new student, it is a good idea to prepare your students and your classroom. Take time to discuss with your class where the student is coming from and ways to make him/her welcome in your classroom. Here are some ideas to help prepare your students and your classroom for the arrival of a new student:

  • Get an extra set of supplies– The student may not come with anything so if you are able to get some supplies such as pencils, erasers, earbuds (if needed), dry-erase markers, folders, papers, planner, etc.
  • Locate an extra backpack– Your student may not have a backpack, so if you have an extra one on hand, that will make the student feel that much better
  • Desk and chair- I know it seems obvious, but with everything that is going on right now, you may forget to ask the custodian to bring you an extra desk and chair. There is nothing worse than being a new student with nowhere to sit
  • Handouts, notes, etc.– Your new student will want a copy of the notes, etc. that you have learned throughout the year. Districts and states teach different curriculum at different times of the year. They may not have learned material that you have already taught in your classes.

Getting to Know the New Student

If you are able to get access to the student’s cumulative file before their first day that would be ideal. There is a wealth of information although it may take some time to sort through. Some items you want to look for right away is if the student has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan. You could also touch base with the special education staff to help you double check. As soon as you can, make a call to the student’s previous school and see what information you can gather about the student. Their insight will be incredibly valuable as you prepare and plan for the new student. When your new student arrives, make them feel a warm welcome into your building. Here are some ways to help your new student adjust to the new school:

  • Pair the student up with a buddy– This buddy can help show the new student around the building, introduce them to other staff and students as well as figure play with them at recess and figuring out how the lunchroom process works.
  • Incorporate a fun team building activity– These are good any time of the year, but great to get new students involved and making positive memories with their classmates.
  • Have the student fill out an interest inventory– A simple questionnaire will help you get to know your student quickly.
  • Help the student get to their bus at the end of the day- The end of the day can be stressful, so making sure your new student gets on the right bus will be a positive end to a great first day.

Determine Needs and Make a Plan

You may determine from your research, talking with previous teachers, or during a simple assessment, that your student may have some needs. These needs could be academic, physical, social, or emotional. Do not wait to set up a plan with other staff. If you suspect that a student might have an IEP or a 504, make sure you get in touch with your special education department and building administrators. They can follow-up to gather additional information.

You do not need to wait to either to initiate Response to Intervention (RtI) levels with your student as well. If you see an area of need, talk with your school psychologist, special education team, or counselors for some advice. A great resource that I use often is Intervention Central. They have some great resources that help to facilitate different interventions for academic and behavior needs.

Foster Growth Socially and Academically

Like you did with your other students at the beginning of the year, monitor how your new student is doing. Be aware of the students they are hanging around with and how their home life is going. Make time each day to ask how they are doing and to get to know them better. Just as we want to see academic growth, we also want to foster growth socially and emotionally as well. We were all new to a place at some point. Thank you for helping to ease the transition and welcoming this new student into your classroom community!

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