As the school year in Australia comes to a close, teachers are busy preparing ways to say “Thank you” to their classroom aides and volunteers, organising gifts for their students (remember to add a 9 square Christmas puzzle), and gifts their students can make for their parents (a poem makes a great gift).
With all that going on, one would think it impossible for teachers to think ahead to the new school year, but they do; and are already making preparations to ensure the beginning of the year goes smoothly.
If students and teachers are fortunate enough to know to which class they will be allocated in the following year, things can be much easier.
One school made the transition from one year to the next more efficient than most with which I’d been involved.
The process of allocating children to new classes can be daunting. (I have written about it in more detail on NorahColvin.com. You can read it here.) While most schools allocate children to classes, many do not share the information, even with teachers.
This school made the information public, and took the process one step further. This is how it worked.
Meet the teacher
One morning, two weeks before the end of term, children were told who their teachers for the next year would be. They assembled in their new classes, met their new teachers and went off to their new classrooms for about 45 minutes.
The new teacher would explain class expectations and topics the children would learn about. Sometimes the teacher would read a story or engage the students in discussions about what they had learned in the current year and what they were hoping to learn in the following year. Oftentimes children returned with a small gift from their new teacher; for example, a book mark, pencil or eraser. They always returned excited.
In addition to stories and discussions, I would always ask my new students to draw a picture of themselves, write their name and anything else they would like to tell me about themselves or their picture. I would also take their photograph and attach it to their drawing. In addition to the portfolio of information coming from the previous teacher, this would provide me with valuable information that I could use when preparing for the new year.
Establish positive attitudes
In addition, I would have a letter and a small gift ready for my new students. The letter helps to create a positive connection, makes them feel special and helps to ease the transition back to school after the holidays. It also ensures they remember what class they are in and who their teacher is. It lets their parents know as well.
Once children in my class knew their classes for the following year, I arranged their seating and named their groups to match. This provided opportunities for children to bond with future class mates as well as identify their class for the following year. There would be no unnecessary confusion or anxiety on the first day of school.
I think this is a wonderful process and one that should be adopted in all schools. It has many benefits; including:
- helping teachers get to know important information about students before the year begins and assisting preparation.
- reducing the anxieties of children and parents over the holidays, wondering about which class they would be in and which teacher, even whether they would be in the same class as their friends.
During the holidays, I would then start to prepare items ready for the beginning of the year. I’ll be posting about some of these in January, but if you are keen to get started, you can check out the resources, including Getting ready for the first day with Busy Bee resources, found in Classroom Management.
This week I have uploaded some new resources to extend learning from the interactive digital story
Who’s Hiding at Christmas? added last week.
These one-character-to-a-page printable cards can be used as a reference when children are doing their own Christmas writing or completing the Christmas crossword. All characters appear in the story.
Twelve Christmas word cards, many related to the story, with colourful illustrations can be used as a reference when children are doing their own Christmas writing or completing the Christmas crossword.
The clues are similar to those in the story Who’s Hiding at Christmas? and therefore easy, for children familiar with the story, to read. They can also use the Christmas character descriptions and Christmas word cards to help with the spelling of answers.
I hope you and children enjoy using these readilearn resources.
I’ll see you next week. In the meantime, have a great weekend.
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Happy teaching and learning,
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