Whether they join your classroom at the beginning of the year or in the middle, it’s always intimidating to be the “new kid.” As a teacher, you set the expectation of how your students respond to and accept new members of the classroom. Here are some ways you can make your new students feel welcome and get to know them, from veteran Christian school teacher Kim Smith.
Mrs. Smith will never forget one of her “Lesson Learned” moments. Just for fun and a bit of variety, she had a day when her students were called by their middle names. The class made and decorated fancy name tags. During the process, she realized she had been mispronouncing the name of a shy student the whole year! It’s kind of hard to feel welcome when your teacher doesn’t even say your name right! When a new student joins the classroom, make sure to always verify the pronunciation of their names. Check out this blog for tips on how to learn names faster.
Involve the Rest of the Class
Prep the class for ways they can welcome new classmates before they arrive. Demonstrate and teach acts of thoughtfulness, kindness, and patience.
Either buy or make a welcome card and have your students sign it for the new student on their first day. You can also combine this with a sweet gift, like candy or a special pencil with their name on it.
Assign a “Buddy”
Assign a reliable student to be the new student’s buddy. They can help out by walking with their new classmate to the nurse, a music lesson, etc., until he or she is familiar with locations. They can sit beside the new student and be the “private consultant” for procedural questions and classroom habits.
New Students File
For students who enroll in the middle of the year, make a file labeled New Students, in which you have extra cards, copies of welcome notes, and other helpful resources.
Assign each student a number for this get-acquainted game. The student whose number is called tells something interesting about himself. Help them out by giving them prompts such as a favorite food, book, sport, place to visit, or Bible verse. Call on one student at the start of each new subject or before breaks. Take notes, and then randomly ask questions throughout the days following. Which student lived in Texas? Likes to put ketchup on his pizza? This is a good learning and listening exercise.
An interesting twist to this get-to-know-you game is to distribute colored candies. Say “red.” The students with the red candy stand up, say their names, and share one interesting fact based on your prompt. Continue this throughout the day or week until all colors have been called. Next time you do it, ask those with the same color to tell a classmate’s name and the coordinating favorite fact, to see how well the students are learning about each other. Don’t forget to eat the candies! This activity also makes a great review game before a test.
Special Seats at Lunch
At lunch, reserve the spots next to you as special seats. At the beginning of the year, select students each day to join you as a way of getting to know them. You’ll probably find that they were more relaxed and talked more freely when other students were with them. Throughout the year, this is a great way of maintaining a personal connection with your students.
What ideas do you have for making new students feel welcome? Comment below or let us know on our Facebook page!