How Teachers Can Successfully Transition to a New School
Starting a new job at a new school can be both stressful and exciting. Maybe you’re moving across town or across the country, maybe you found a better opportunity, or maybe you simply needed some change. No matter the reason for leaving one teaching job for another, it can be a bit overwhelming to close up shop in one school and prepare for the upcoming adventures in the new one. As you leave your current teaching job, be sure to leave with positivity and optimism, which includes not burning bridges or badmouthing that school, even if there were very valid reasons for your departure. Be professional and respectful throughout the entire process, regardless of the circumstances surrounding your decision to move on to a new school. As you transition to your new environment, take care to utilize these tips to make the transition seamless and positive.
Interact with Colleagues As Soon As Possible
This can be challenging depending on the time of year that you’re hired, but you should try to get to know your colleagues as soon as possible once you officially have a new teaching job. If you already know where your classroom will be, try to meet the teachers next door and across the hall, and definitely connect with others who teach subjects or grades similar to yours. Get to know the administration, the counselors, the custodial staff, and so on. Even if you’ve been teaching for decades, you’re likely going to have questions at some point, and having some friendly faces around will benefit you. You also want to seem approachable to your colleagues so that you don’t get left out or pegged as the standoffish new teacher who hasn’t spoken a word to anyone. The established teachers don’t necessarily need a new friend or a helping hand, so they likely aren’t going to approach you first. Take the first step towards meeting colleagues by introducing yourself and asking questions.
Get Involved in School Activities Quickly
You don’t want to be the overzealous new teacher who takes on more than she can handle, but you do want to familiarize yourself with school culture and get actively involved in the lives of your students and their parents. A great way to do that is to participate in school activities. This may mean volunteering to host the chess club in your classroom one afternoon a week, helping with an event that’s coming up, or assisting with bus duty in the mornings. You may be able to get involved in a particular sports team or extracurricular club as well. You don’t want to overcommit right from the start, but you do want as many opportunities as possible to engage with your colleagues, students, and parents.
Connect with Parents
Speaking of parents, be sure to connect with them as soon as possible. Strike up some conversations at open house, ask for a room mom to volunteer in your room, and get email addresses and phone numbers so you can communicate with parents throughout the year. Make sure parents know that you are there to help their children and support their parenting efforts, and assure them that your door is always open should they have a question or concern. Particularly in bigger high schools, parents have a lot of influence with both the administration and the local community, so being well-connected with them will benefit you and help make your transition much simpler.
Feel Free to Reinvent Yourself
New year, new you, right? How about “new school, new you”? When you start a new job, you likely will know very few people there, if any. It’s a great time to reinvent yourself in a number of ways. If you were known as the last-minute planner at your last school, aim to be better about not procrastinating and about getting ahead in your work at this new school. If you were known for poor classroom management at your last job, spend time researching new methods of classroom management and establish yourself as a teacher with high behavioral standards who demands respect in her classroom. Or maybe you were known among your colleagues as the shy teacher who avoided confrontation with parents, so at this school you want to improve your communication skills and interact with colleagues and parents in a more positive and productive way. Whatever part of your old self you aren’t fond of, be sure to shed that as you move into a new school and reinvent yourself in the best way possible.
Focus on the Students
New colleagues, administration, and parents can be intimidating as it is. But a key part of how teachers can transition to a new school is to focus on the students. After all, they’re the entire reason you’re there, aren’t they? Remember why you chose to be a teacher in the first place and set your classroom up as an inviting environment that will encourage students to open up, do their best, and achieve success all year round. Find new ways to engage students at your new school, and plan some fun activities to get to know your new students and allow them to get to know you. Your students are the people you’ll spend the most time with during the school year, so be sure to keep them at the forefront of everything you do at your new school, and that will make the transition significantly easier and more enjoyable.
Acknowledge and Accept Your Feelings About the Transition
Finally, be sure to let yourself feel however you feel about moving to a new school. It may be pure joy and excitement, or it could be a lot of fear and anxiety. Most likely, it’s a combination of those things. No matter how you feel though, or what circumstances impacted your move, acknowledge those feelings and be okay with them. You may need to work on moving past them eventually if they are primarily negative, but accept that you’re allowed to feel that way and then push forward to help yourself feel the way you want to feel.
It can be overwhelming at times to know how teachers can transition to a new school, but if you follow these guidelines and take it all one step at a time, you’ll successfully transition into your new role in your new school.