Changing teachers mid year can be difficult for students as they have established a school routine and have picked up a groove of adapting to a teacher’s learning style and vice versa. Children thrive on consistency and structure so when that consistency is altered, a period of chaos is understandable and expected. Here are a few tips on dealing with students during the transition of teachers.
Tips on dealing with students:
- Get to know your students interests and develop bonds and connections.
- Establish your authority. You are there to be kind but not to be their friend so remain firm and confident as children will test limits with you as a new person.
- Find out what works for your students especially those with higher needs. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, be curious with staff and students about what has been currently working well.
- Be slow to introduce your ideas. Your teaching style may be outstanding but children need time to adjust. Children may say things like "My old teacher didn't do it that way." Use language that shows compromise and understanding as children want to feel that you care about them. For example, a response may be "I understand she did it a different way, it takes courage to try new things and there is no one right way to do it. Everybody is different."
- Although a change can be anxiety provoking and a child may pledge allegiance with their original teacher, the change can be very good. It will teach them new social skills such as being flexible, adapting, being open minded, and working with others.
- Consider developing a student inventory questionnaire so you can quickly learn about student needs, interests, and academic concerns.
Tips on dealing with parents:
- Sometimes it is more difficult for parents than it is for students to deal with the transition. Be open and offer reassurance to parents as they will have questions about how their children’s learning may be affected. They may worry their children may not get the same attention and care.
- If any staff members hear murmurs from parents please display a positive attitude about how this will be a learning experience for the children. A parent's attitude is important as their child will be watching to see how they react.
- Send an email to parents introducing yourself as you will set the tone for the transition and it is best practice to make yourself readily available and keep lines of communication open.
- Parents may tell you that their child is having a hard time with the transition. Remind parents that your child has adapted to other teachers already in classes such as music, PE, and languages. Children may need to be reminded of how adaptable they have already been without even knowing it!
Remember, it is through change and adversity that resiliency is built. Embrace change as it is bound to occur, better sooner than later.