When you''re the new kid, it can be a big scary world in the new neighborhood. Yes, even when you're a grown up. Driving to work that first "official" day, I was a jumbled mess of excitement and nerves. The realization that I was walking into a completely brand new school environment was a lot to process, and brought to my mind all those "new kids" that had crossed my path over 19 years in my former district.
Yesterday I was thinking about that experience. I started ticking off things in my mind that the veterans of the neighborhood might take for granted, not intentionally, of course. But things that would help the new kid feel at home more quickly. These go beyond the housekeeping things like curriculum, schedules, bussing and lunch procedures. Hopefully the building and/or school district has a mentoring program in place that covers those things. If not, then add those to the list.
The necessities. Don't skip these. Trust me.
Say hello. Introduce yourself and your role in the building. Especially if you see them standing or sitting alone.
Introduce them to "key" players in the building...the secretary, the custodians, the cafeteria staff.
While you're in the cafeteria, fill them in on how to order/pay for "teacher" lunch. Or where to put their lunch if they bring it from home. Or the best (code for "fastest") place to pick up lunch if they have time to run out for lunch. I know..who has time for that...but still....
The supply closet...you know every school has a "stash" room. Show them where it is.
Technology 411 such as where computers print to...or which printer is the better one to print to.
The chocolate drawer..or shelf...or closet. This could save a life! True story!
The extras. To the new kid, any (or all) of these would be icing on the cake.
Invite them to eat with you in the Teacher's Room one day each week for the first month.
When you're talking about how things are done, remember the new kid doesn't have the "history". Try to fill in the "code" talk for them.
Give them the 411 on special school events or days (this is code for "we all dress up here") well in
advance (again code for "not the day before") so that they can participate at the right level.
Provide them with a map of the school, labeled with teachers first and last names. Include supportstaff.
Start up conversations that aren't about school and work. Ask them about their families, interests, hobbies.
Invite them to events outside of the school day, like the standing invitation to Friday Happy Hour that they might not know about.
Maybe you have a new kid in your neighborhood this year. Remember, the new kid could be a new specialist or support person in your building. They are especially susceptible to feeling alone as they don't come with the ready made neighborhood of a classroom. It doesn't have to all fall on your shoulders. Enlist your teaching team. The point is to look out for those new kids this year. Someday the new kid may be you.
A special thanks to my teaching friends who shared ideas about welcoming new staff this afternoon! I hope the conversation got you thinking.
You can find more Slice of Life post at Two Writing Teachers.