In the week before mid-winter break I breezed by my principal in the hall and she said, “You’re getting a new student after break! Let’s meet to talk about it.”
It's well known that in education the amount of topics teachers need to meet about our innumerable and the time in which to do so does not exist. I knew I had a pre-observation meeting scheduled with my principal that week so we would definitely connect but the time would be tight. Our meeting was 30 minutes and it was scheduled directly after a lockdown drill. Everything is back to back to back to back. Critical reflection and debriefing is required in the few minutes directly after a lockdown drill so that was the topic we started on in my pre-conference meeting.
Following that we went on to talk about what she would see during my observation on Friday and that was all the time we had. After the meeting came to a close she walked me to the art class where I would pick up my students. It was in this stroll down the hall that I first learned about my new student. I discovered that the family was very curious about how the transition would work and they would like to meet with me but due to everyone’s busy schedules it wasn’t going to happen in the few days before break. While I knew I didn’t have the luxury of sitting down to talk with the family or giving them a room tour I took comfort in knowing my Bloomz classroom was set up and ready to welcome them.
The work I've done developing this online parent community since August was there to support my incoming family in February when I physically couldn’t be. Families had posted pictures of their children and what books they read over the previous winter break. This is valuable for my new student to view because he can get a sense of who his new classmates are. Other points of interest for my incoming family to explore are the weekly curriculum updates I post every Friday. They can see what we've been learning on a weekly basis since the first day of school. This might help them because there may be topics that align with their previous school. My new student and his family can talk about those topics and relate to them or notice the similarities/differences from the first half of his year in kindergarten. Additionally, I utilize the calendar and sign-up features so my incoming family can get a full picture of parent involvement and events.
I think the most impactful benefit for the new student would be looking at all of the photos and videos in my albums. He can familiarize himself with his new community and be more prepared to enter it. When students arrive at new schools mid-year it is for various reasons. Some students may have just physically moved from another location with an entirely different culture. Others may have been at a school that wasn't the right fit for them or couldn't serve their needs. Transitions are tender places and call for extra sensitive social-emotional support.
When I moved to a new school as a young scholar it was tough because the unknown was intimidating. If I had the opportunity to look at my new classmates before walking into that classroom I would have walked through the door with more confidence. I would have been ready to learn rather than dealing with the social emotional stress of not knowing anything about this environment where everyone had already developed relationships and shared interests. Teachers who use Bloomz are better prepared for new students mid-year because they have a structure in place for communication and partnership with new families.
Side note...after writing this article I found out that I will be in fact getting ANOTHER new student next week! The amount of time I'm saving in introducing my classroom systems to new families just doubled. Bloomz has me relieved and confident welcoming my two new students when otherwise I might be overwhelmed. If there is anything I can do to ease the fears of new students and families as they transition to a school mid-year that would be a win for me as a teacher. This year Bloomz helped me with this win!