Transitioning to a new school after 10 years can be overwhelming to say the least. I know from experience. However, the transition can be smoother and less stressful with the help of friends, colleagues, administrators, and these Five Rs:
1. Re-familiarize yourself with standards, goals, and expectations. This is a great opportunity to re-examine your content-area standards and remind yourself what goals and outcomes are expected of your students.
As creatures of habit, we sometimes teach the same way, year after year, forgetting to incorporate new learning goals. Now is a good time to brainstorm new ways to facilitate lessons that meet or exceed the standards. Learn the new vocabulary associated with your standards and teach it to your students so they can recognize it and understand it during assessments. It will also make peer collaboration more efficient and effective.
2. Reflect, reflect, reflect. Think about how people perceived you at your last school. Were you the Know It All? The Gossip? The Lazy One? If so, this is the time to decide how to change that perception and determine how you want others to perceive you.
As one of my principals told me, just rip the bandage off and really see things for what they are. It may be painful, but it needs to be done. Put your head down and work hard. A new school can mean
a new you!
This is also a time to think about your classroom structure. What procedures did you have in place at your former school that worked well? Which procedures did you have, but did not follow through with consistently? Change them or come up with new ways to implement the procedures in a more effective way.
The teachers at your new school can provide insight about schoolwide policies and procedures and share ideas about how they handle procedures and routines. Ultimately, you can still decide what works best in your classroom, but always be willing to listen and reflect before acting.
AMLE talks with author Marie Wintz about Finding Teaching Success at a New School
3. Remain open to ideas. Listen to the seasoned teachers at your new school; they have a ton of insight that can make your school year easier. Do not dominate the conversation during collaboration; learn from your new colleagues. Not every idea may work for you, but these educators may know the inside information—the scoop—that may alleviate some of your stress. Begin each day with an open mind.
4. Reorganize and restructure. This is an opportune time to review, reorganize, re-assess, and maybe recycle the materials you have kept for years. Donate books and classroom supplies that have been collecting dust to a charity or offer them to your past or current colleagues. Organize your new materials into binders so they are easy to locate.
Sometimes a change in your classroom décor and a few new posters can re-energize you. Treat yourself to a new color scheme. Look at some of the classrooms in your new school and see how they are arranged.
5. Remain calm. As you meet with your new colleagues and administrators and begin taking in an abundance of new information, you may feel overwhelmed. However, remember that these teachers and administrators know that it will take a little time for you to acclimate to your new school; they will help you along the way.
Being able to laugh at yourself throughout this process is essential. You will make mistakes, but that’s okay because, as we tell our students, mistakes are one of the ways we learn.
Marie Wintz is an eighth grade English and reading teacher at Central Middle School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. email@example.com
Published in AMLE Magazine
, February 2016.