By Teachers, For Teachers
For teachers, starting a new teaching assignment mid-year can be stressful, not only for you but for the students as well.
For students, getting a new teacher disrupts their routine, and may cause anxiety and confusion. Many students often feel an allegiance towards their former teacher and may have a hard time accepting new changes. Although getting a new teaching job at a new school or starting in a new classroom mid-year may not sound ideal, it is doable, and can actually be a rewarding experience.
Here are a few classroom management ideas to help you minimize any anxiety while taking over a classroom mid-year.
First and foremost, you will want to send home a letter introducing yourself to parents. Tell them how excited you are for the opportunity to work with their children and encourage them to call (or e-mail) you with any concerns they may have.
Parents may have already established a relationship with the former teacher, and now it’s your job to set the tone, extend the communication lines, and make yourself available to create a positive educational experience for the students.
Treat your first day of class like it was the beginning of the school year. Help break the ice by playing a few first day of school activities with your students. During the first week, your classroom management techniques should include taking the time to pull children aside individually to learn more about each of them and get their perspective on the new transition. By getting to know each individual, you are laying the foundation for a successful and positive relationship.
If you want to establish a good rapport and reduce feelings of anxiety and nervousness, learn each student’s name as quickly as you can. There are a variety of tips and tricks that can help you—nametags, photographs, playing games, and using mnemonic devices are all viable options. Being able to identify a student by her name will give you the biggest return investment—her allegiance.
One of the most grueling struggles you have to face is the immediate disconnection you may feel with your classroom. Some students may even feel threatened and resentful. The best way to alleviate some of this bitterness is to allow your kids to get to know you better. You can do this by letting students interview you or by playing some classroom games.
Children are creatures of habit and thrive on a steady routine. Don’t be surprised to hear the constant comparison to how their “old” teacher did things. Happily enough, children are resilient and will bounce back fairly quickly, so don’t be afraid to teach your way—just be sure to introduce your ideas one at a time.
Whatever you choose, make it memorable—it could be something as simple as changing the seating arrangement or a simple classroom routine. As students become more comfortable with you, you can slowly incorporate more and more of your ideas. They will learn to adjust to the changes, learn to accept them, or in some cases even look forward to something fresh.
From the moment that you set foot into the classroom, you must establish your authority. Although it’s important to be friendly, you must also remember that the students are not your friends, and you must understand that you are there to teach them—especially outright. It’s a fine balance, but start the first day firm, confident, yet kind, and approachable. As the days go by you can ease up, but in order to have a well-managed classroom from the very start, you must set the tone from day one.
All teachers know that in order to get students to do the right thing, you need an incentive. If your predecessor already had a great program set up that works, then stick with that. If not, then set up a clear incentive program like coupons, class points, or a homework pass. This can be a great bargaining chip if students are disruptive or are having a hard time adjusting to the new changes.
Step into your new classroom prepared and confident, and ready to embrace the rest of the school year. Don’t be afraid to approach your colleagues or principle if you have any questions or concerns. Although the start of teaching midyear may seem like a daunting task now, know that you can do it. By implementing the tips above, it’s possible to make a smooth transition that will sustain you through the remainder of the school year.
Do you have any tips for starting a teaching job mid-year? Share with us in the comment section below. We would love to hear your ideas!
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.