I have a few students new to the school this year as juniors. One of them has been eating lunch in my room for a few days while my intern and I do work, and today I asked him what were the worst things about changing schools. They haven’t changed much since I was in high school and started at a new school when I was a junior.
1. Finding your way around school. Our school is pretty large, and there are 2 buildings students have to navigate–they cross the street between periods. That’s difficult even if you know where you’re going.
2. Lunchtime. Imagine walking into a noisy room full of people you don’t know and having to find a seat. In fact, there may be no empty tables where you can choose to sit alone…thus, my intern and I invited this one new student to eat lunch in our room while we do work. His dad was so grateful we offered him this safe space that he sent an email.
3. Bus ride. Similar to lunch, here’s a group of people you don’t know. Also, according to my student, the kids at the back of the bus are annoying. And they’re younger, since most of the juniors and seniors drive or get rides.
4. You don’t know the schedule, the teachers, or the slang. Nothing is the same at a new school. People use words to describe school-specific things, and even from town to town the slang differs. You have to totally reestablish yourself with peers and with teachers. This can be a positive thing for many students, but for others it is frightening.
5. Feeling totally alone. I had students write a survey about themselves in the first week of school and some of the newer students feel isolated and alone. The worst is that I have no idea who new students are on the first day. If I did, I could make it a point to talk to them about their old school or ask them about their transition here.
I think the pattern here is that my student isn’t really connected yet to our community or other students. If I ask him in a month how he’s feeling, will it change? Only if he’s met people he likes and has started to feel connected. As a teacher, this makes me wonder how I can connect to all of my students and make them feel connected and valued.
Posted by Kate, VP Secondary