New students can always send us for a loop! Just when you think the year is going smoothly, you get the call… or email….from the office or admins…. it goes something like this:
A new student will be touring your classroom on Friday, Looking to start in 2 weeks.
Short, sweet, and can BREAK you. WHAT?! A new student, I just got johnny on track ignoring friends behaviors, I just figured out how to squeeze in everyones lunches and recess.
OH AND A NEW GRADE TOO.
After a little bit or chocolate, (or wine), you can take a deep breath and get working.
Yes, things will change.
Yes, your schedule will be redone.
Yes, your staff will have to be trained on new behaviors.
But, YOU. GOT. THIS.
This is why we are special educators, we can handle these things. It is so much more than just throwing an extra desk and name tag together. It is teaching all new goals, and managing all new behaviors and figuring out all new ways of teaching.
2. Here is a few things to help you through the struggle. New students often mean, higher staff to student ratio. This is a struggle for everyone involved. Start training your current students how to work independently, even for a small portion of time, to enable you to focus on your newbie, and train staff.
My Three Drawer Workbox system, is a simple way to implement independent work. Fill the 3 drawers with worksheets of activities and the student earns a reward when all three are completed! Simple! Oh, and it’s FREE 🙂
2. Another way to approach independent work, which takes your hands off the students for a short period of time while increasing their independence in learned skills, is a TEACCH task box system.
You can read more about my workbox station and how to set up and implement HERE! It is never too late in the year to teach students this skill and start building independence. I implemented this in the middle of the year last year!
3. Get all of your visuals in place. Make sure there are enough for all students and staff. Visuals can make or break you! Retrain staff on their importance and encourage them to make sure they are carrying them at all times.
Start the habit before your newbie gets there and remind them how important it is to familiarize your new friends with the visuals from the very first day! Here is some more information on visuals!
My visuals ring is SO IMPORTANT for all my staff to carry! Without it, inclusion would be close to impossible! I highly recommend it for all staff members and those interacting with your students with autism or communication disorders!
4. FORMS. It is easy to forget the routine when you get a new student. It is JUST LIKE the beginning of the year for these parents and students. Don’t forget to send home a welcome letter to make the family feel comfortable with you and your classroom. This really helps families get off on the right foot, especially for students with high needs.
5. BUILD THE RELATIONSHIP. Work on building relationships and getting the student use to your classroom and you. Building that relationship and trust will go a long way.
6. Most importantly, remember to assess this student from the start, with a clear, fresh mind. Make sure all goals are appropriate and look for holes. Without assessing the lower skills, you won’t know what your student may be missing. I always assess from the very first day, and work on building from the basics up!
I am happy to say that I have survived my first new student of the year. We are still adjusting, staff is still learning, but he is a perfect fit! Even if your student isn’t, I know you can make it work!
Remember, you’re a special educator! You got this!