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Switching schools is a massive change for any teacher, no matter the cause. Whether you’re staying in your district, moving or starting to teach for the first time, knowing how to find your footing at a new school can be challenging.
Thankfully, there are ways to start strong in your new classroom. Here are seven tips to help you fit into your new teaching environment.
1. Clear Your Mind
When switching to a new school, there’s a lot on your mind. You may have loved or hated your old school. Either way, emotions will always creep up when adjusting to a new classroom, students, colleagues and administrators.
Clearing your mind before you start your first day is an excellent way to ensure you can find your footing at a new school and be ready to go.
It’s hard to ignore what you had, but techniques like journaling, deep breathing and meditation can help you relax and open your mind to the new adventure ahead.
You don’t want to risk passing any baggage to your new pupils. You can work towards an excellent start to your journey and theirs by refreshing yourself.
2. Learn the Rules
Every school has rules it expects its students and teachers to follow. Don’t enter a new school environment and assume you’ll follow the same protocol as your previous one.
Learning as much as you can about school policies ahead of time prepares you for a variety of situations that might come your way.
As you get to know your colleagues, get a feel for any unspoken rules you should follow to make your time there the best it can be. What techniques do these kids get enjoy? What about participating in extra-curricular events?
The more information you can get, the easier your adjustment will be.
3. Be Confident, Not Cocky
Whether a new or experienced teacher, you want to make an excellent first impression. You also may feel you know everything you need to have a successful school year.
Confidence is a good thing. It helps students respect you and parents and administrators trust you. You want to come across that you know what you’re talking about and can handle the obstacles your students may face.
However, don’t get cocky about your teaching style or operating throughout the year. Each school has its unique community that has different wants and needs. If returning teachers and staff try to lend a helping hand or give advice, be open to it.
Lending an ear to tips and tricks that might be helpful gives you greater insight about the school and helps your colleagues know you’re a team player.
4. Be Friendly
One of the biggest fears of a new school is you’re not familiar with the more challenging situations brought on by students you may not realize.
You want to set boundaries for your class right away to build respect between you and your class. However, it’s essential to be friendly to your new roster. Of course, you want to be nice, but your nerves can sometimes get in the way of making friends with your new students.
Set rules and stick to them, but don’t underestimate the power of a good teacher-student repertoire.
You can learn a lot from the students who have already spent years in your school. By forming a positive relationship from the get-go, you’ll have access to their wealth of knowledge and help you both find footing at a new school.
5. Get Involved
Sitting back and observing your first year might seem more comfortable, but getting involved with activities will quickly integrate you into the school culture and community.
Whether volunteering to work at a sports event or dance or leading a fundraiser, you’ll get to interact with students and teachers from outside your hallway. It’s also a great way to show your administration that you’re happy to be there.
Another benefit of getting involved is your ability to interact with different parents and outside community members. It’s helpful if you’re new to the town, as it helps you learn more about it and make connections you’ll carry outside school.
Need a new hairdresser? Talk to a parent whose hair you envy. Want to know about a city ordinance? Strike up a conversation with the city council member who came to interact.
These events are significant if you’re socially introverted, as you’ll already have an excuse to be there.
6. Eat with Colleagues
It may seem simple, but don’t turn down an invitation to eat with other teachers and staff during those first few weeks. Lunch time may be your peace, but it’s also the best time to make friends.
Without the students, you can get to know each other and find similarities and differences. As in every profession, having a workplace buddy or two is excellent, and staff lunches are a great time to find yours.
Eating together also gives you an excuse to collaborate and helps you strengthen your presence among staff.
You don’t want to risk the whole year being a mystery to the other teachers or vice versa.
7. Ask Questions
When you’re a newbie, it can feel embarrassing to ask questions to other personnel. Some of your colleagues have served there for years, and it feels silly to ask questions with simple answers.
It can also feel embarrassing to ask a question you know you’ve asked before but can’t remember the answer to. You don’t want to seem incompetent.
It’s essential to remember that every teacher you see was once in your shoes. Even as a veteran teacher, there are things to learn at a new school and every administration operates differently.
“Fake it till you make it” works for some things, but caring for and educating children generally shouldn’t be one of them. So, don’t be afraid to seek answers and know that one day, you’ll get to provide them to another new teacher.
Find Your Footing at Your New School
New schools are intimidating for teachers at all phases of their careers. Know that it’s normal to be nervous about your new adventure.
By being confident, asking questions and working to have positive reactions with your students, colleagues and community, you will set yourself up for success this school year.