The new school year causes a full show of mixed emotions among our students. Some feel excited and happy, while others feel nervous, uneasy, or lonely for they have to let go of their summer escapades and face a new stage in their lives. Hence, as teachers, we should think of exciting ways on how to welcome students to a new class.
Welcoming students to a new school year requires our efforts to make our classroom accommodating and safe. Because it is quite the phase where students create impressions, we should create a positive learning environment right from the beginning. Just like when we’re still at their stage, we needed an atmosphere of warmth and security.
Here are some incredible tips on how to make students feel welcome and comfortable in a new class. Remember, these students should feel at their best from the first day of classes onwards so they are confident that the classroom is a great place to be.
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7 Exciting Ways on How to Welcome Students to a New Class
It is expected that most students feel anxious in a new class especially if they see new faces, a new environment, and a new teacher. They have different expectations as much as they have mixed feelings and emotions. And, as teachers, it is basically our responsibility to keep our students feel welcomed and safe in school.
1. Prepare and structure the classroom
One of the best ways to welcome students to a new class is by structuring the classroom and make it really an enriching learning space. The classroom interior is what grabs the attention of students on the first day. For this reason, you have to update your bulletin boards and display walls. On my end, I’m doing it by subject area and the first content of the quarter should appear first on each bulletin board.
Moreover, I also made a big ‘welcome’ display at the door. On top of that, I station myself at the door and greet my students warmly as they enter the room. The warm greetings at the door can make students feel a lot more comfortable. Furthermore, I will make sure that I’m wearing a smile every time so my students feel the good vibes on their way.
“How are you? Welcome to class, sweetheart.” These are sincere words of welcome that complement your door display. In addition to that, the learning manipulatives, educational toys, and instructional materials should be neatly arranged on the cabinets or shelves with appropriate labels on them. The well-arranged materials attract learners and the over-all preparation in the classroom can give students an impression that they belong to a safe and nurturing classroom.
2. Design an interactive seating arrangement
Even though you are not familiar with your students yet, it’s always helpful to prepare a seating arrangement where students see one another and allow them to interact freely. Moreover, the arrangement of desks and chairs should allow movements so students can interact with one another during tasks or activities.
Although the seating arrangement may change depending on the content and learning activities, it’s still better if the chairs or desks are arranged accordingly on the very first day. Now, if you plan to have interactive preliminary activities, then you should be preparing the desks for that.
For example, if you are planning to do visual presentations as your general motivation on the first day of class, then you might as well use a horseshoe or U-shape seating arrangement. This arrangement is most conceivable if you are to require your students for group presentations as their ‘getting to know’ activities.
Or if you happen to occupy a large classroom, you can utilize the ‘horseshoes’ seating arrangement. It’s creative and the interaction is really fun.
If you are thinking of a think-pair-share work, you can also use the ‘Pairs’ seating arrangement where students are seated by pair. I used the seating arrangement when I asked my students to introduce themselves by pair creatively. In the procedure, in pairs, students will interview and introduce each other.
3. Introduce yourself and tell them your inspiring story
What inspired you to become a teacher? Or why do you love children? Perhaps the answers to these questions are interesting pieces about you that deserve to be shared with your students.
You can also prepare a PowerPoint presentation in your self-introduction. I tried this activity and my students were really excited to listen and to hear things about me. Their facial expressions were telling me to go on and on. They just can’t wait for the next slide where they already asked questions which started a good interaction with them.
My intention really was to make my students feel comfortable with me and respect me as their teacher. I know that I have intimidating facial expressions and my eyes really speak my emotions and I told them about it and they laughed. Well, that was humor and it was effective. You can try it too with your new class.
Also, your digital presentations on the first day are an indication that you are speaking the language of the learners because you are integrating technology. This can create an impression among your students that you are extending effort to keep them engaged in learning.
When introducing yourself to your new students, you should create an impression that you are trustworthy and indeed, a passionate teacher whom they can trust for support and genuine care. I hope this makes sense.
4. Let students introduce themselves in a fun way
Plan for a creative self-introduction for your students. They will surely love the excitement of knowing their new classmates who will be their companions and best buddies for the school year.
To get to know one another in a new class, students must introduce themselves; however, it should be done in an interactive way to begin fostering a strong relationship among your students. Let them have fun while doing the activity. As suggested in the #2 tip, you can make use of the interactive seating arrangement for this activity.
Among the fun ways of self-introduction for students are ‘name chain’ and ‘hot potato’. Having the ‘name chain’ strategy, you can do it by forming a circle at the center of the horseshoe seating arrangement. You use a ball to do it. You do the self-introduction first and share interesting pieces of information about you.
Then, pass the ball to the student next to you. Now, before he introduces himself, he has to mention again the details about you. This activity allows students to know one another and know important details about everyone in the classroom. It’s about having retentive memory and good listening skills.
5. Call students by their first names
Our names are more precious than rubies. When you call your students by their names, they feel special and loved. First and foremost, teachers should be familiar with their students’ names for easy recognition. Most importantly, doing it can help build a teacher-student relationship.
“Knowing and using students’ names during and outside of class recognizes that a student exists and is important,” states Tamara Glenz in her article The Importance of Learning Students’ Names.
Again, I’m doing this in my classroom. When I check the attendance, I use my students’ names. Also, I find it lovable pronouncing their beautiful names in a soft voice and by wearing a smile. Doing it makes my students realize that I really know each one of them and it makes them feel they are special enough.
And when I meet them outside the classroom, I still call them by their first names. Well, it just means that they are important to me that I really take time to remember their names no matter how many they are in my class.
6. Set clear expectations with your students
For a learning environment to be productive, students should be doing their best to meet high expectations. It’s a way of telling them that they are skillful and that we trust their capabilities. However, expectations should be crafted with our students and it should usually take place at the beginning of the classes.
Initially, before you set sail with your students, everything must be clear of what is expected of them. How will they be graded? On what basis? How are their performances being assessed? How should they behave in school as a whole?
Studies reveal that if teachers share with students the criteria or rubrics for performance tasks, explaining standards and expectations help students to become independent learners and become the center of the educative process.
7. Manage to introduce the very first interesting lesson
Make the most of the first day of classes. Begin a productive school year with an equally productive day. At the end of the very first day, students should leave an impression that they would learn effectively with you as their teacher. They should have that ‘thing’ that can be excitedly shared with their parents by the time they arrive home.
Remove the stigma that it’s all right for students to skip the first day of classes because the teachers are still settling things up for the school year. Hence, I’m including this incredible tip in the list because it’s a perfect way of telling your students that you can be their most trusted teacher who can give their enriching learning experiences.
By showing them sincerely what you can do to make them lifelong learners and successful individuals in the future, they will be engaged in learning; hence, the first day is a good start!
Introduce the very first interesting lesson, incorporate technology, and show them that you are knowledgeable, always prepared, and most of all, you are capable of creating a nurturing, secure, and productive classroom atmosphere.
The first impression usually lasts. And great teachers can always make a good impression because their passion for teaching is heartfelt and genuine. They establish a positive learning environment throughout the school year. You and I are capable of doing it too, right?
With our preparations before the school year begins, we can help our students comprehend their learning environment even just on the first day. All we have to do is to help them adjust to their new classroom environment so they won’t feel overwhelmed.
I hope you find these tips helpful. I am always excited to share my best teaching experiences. Then, what about you? How do you welcome your students to a new class? Have I missed something? Feel free to express your thoughts in the comment box below.
Till next time. Stay tuned!