Thursday, 29 August 2013

Integrating new students

Integrating new students during the year is always an interesting experience.

Being in a smaller school, the children we have in each year group are usually 'stuck' with each other from class to class. They develop firm relationships with each other, know each others gifts and quirks, and are accepting of each other.

The students and their new teacher at the beginning of each year develops routines, expectations and values - with the teacher reinforcing and rewarding target behaviours. There is an essential understanding that is developed in the relationship of the student and a teacher.

Then a new student arrives. It's a good opportunity to observe your 'old' students - their interactions and ability to share knowledge, guidance and themselves.

Usually it goes well. The old students are keen to form new friendships (sometimes to the point where the new feels over whelmed for a little while) and the new one is happy to accept. After all it's scary to start a new school and developing friendships helps them to feel good about themselves and comfortable in their new environment. Sometimes there's a little settling period as they get used to new routines and expectations but usually they find their way pretty quickly.

However, what happens when that new one isn't happy to accept new friendships, routines and expectations? They are headstrong and push the boundaries, not only of the class, but the school wide expectations. You want to be positive - you ARE positive as much as possible, but you feel that you have to constantly be on top of them to get any productivity out of them, that they are disrespectful and disruptive to other students. The rest of children feel frustrated, 'gob-smacked', and a little threatened.

The journey only begins there. Rapport, and really knowing that child is going to be key. What else has worked for you?

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