Since the holiday break, my count for new students enrolling in my elementary building is at seven. Research is very clear about the negative effects mobility has on students’ achievement and social/emotional well being. There is also evidence that new students coming into a classroom can impact the learning of the students already there. According to a 2009 study from Notre Dame, when there is an addition to a class roster, current students get less attention, classroom routines are disrupted, and the pace of instruction slows to allow for the new student to catch up.
With this knowledge, it behooves any school to be proactive on this matter. One tool we have used in the past is a new student placement interview form. For a variety of reasons we have not been consistent about this practice. Subsequently, students may be having a harder time acclimating to their new environment. Being reflective practitioners, we have concluded that this tool is essential to getting to know our new students and ease the transition process when they come to us.
When a family registers, either my social worker, guidance counselor or I will sit down with the student and/or parent to ask them the following questions. If this is not possible, we then call the child’s previous school to get more information from a teacher or principal.
This interview form is especially useful for my building. We have multiple sections at every grade level. Therefore we have more options for placement of these students to better meet their academic and social/emotional needs.
Do you have a process such as this in place? If not, how do you transition your new students into your school? Ideas and feedback are always welcome on this blog.