Opening a New Classroom After the Start of the Year

On a recent Instagram story, I mentioned that we earned a new unit for our 3rd grade team. I'm not sure how common this is, but you all had lots of questions for me!

I had 25 students in my class, which is the state maximum for first, second, and third grades. However, we had to wait for the ten day attendance count and allotment funding to come through before hiring a new teacher. We were so lucky to find someone amazing, but at this point, we were 4+ weeks into the school year, so the transition was tough for everyone!

How many students did you lose?

Five. Five sweet, clever children that I had spent 5 weeks bonding with.

How were students selected to move?

There were so many details that went into this decision, which was made by the administration team:

  • reading levels and math levels - We have leveled classes, so this is important!
  • demographics - The new class needed to be just as balanced as ours, as far as ethnicity and gender. 
  • exceptionalities - The new class needed to have a fair amount of students receiving gifted and/or special education services. 
  • supports - Students served by EIP and/or ESOL were not moved as it would not be in their best interest. 
  • special circumstances - Last year, one of the 2nd grade classes was collapsed. To be as conscientious as possible, students who had to move last year due to the class collapse were not moved this year. Students brand new to the school were not moved either. 

How was this handled with parents?

At Sneak Peek, before school even started, all parents received a letter from administration stating that our numbers were high and we would likely earn an additional third grade unit. During Curriculum Night, we stressed to parents why this is a good thing and how smaller classes sizes benefit our students. 

Parents were kept in the loop as a hire was made, and all parents received a timeline. Phone calls were made to parents of students that were moving. 

Parents were invited for a coffee and meet-and-greet with the teacher on the students' first day in the new classroom. 

How was this handled with students?

Parents communicated the information after the phone call. 

On the week that students moved, Tuesday afternoon there was an ice cream party in their new classroom with their new teacher. Students participated in some about me activities to get to know each other while they enjoyed ice cream. Students came back to my class SO excited about their new class! 

On Wednesday, we helped our students move their materials and supplies to their new classroom. 

On Thursday, they started with the new teacher! 

How did you help students make the transition?

While 5 of my students were at the ice cream party with their new teacher, I had a meeting with the rest of my class. We talked about how they might be feeling and how we could support them. We decided to make "binder covers" for them, which was essentially a white piece of paper that students could slide into the clear pocket on the front of their binders. 

Students were excited to hear that we would still go to specials together and see each other at recess every day! 

Of course, some students were still emotional about leaving. I was honest with them and told them that I cried, too. I made sure they knew that they didn't do anything wrong and that I love them and that I am so sad to see them go. We talked about how and why they will be a great addition to the new class. We talked about the positives and how this can and will benefit them. 

How did you support the new teacher?

Again, my grade level knew this was happening, so we made efforts to keep everything as consistent as possible. 
  • All of our gradebooks were the same, students' notebooks and folders were labeled the same, etc. 
  • Our amazing data clerk set up her grade book and transferred all of the grades for her. 
  • We graded papers for her. 
  • We made sure that her students' diagnostic tests and reading levels were completed. 
  • We gave her plenty of community supplies, like tissues, soap, hand sanitizer, etc. 
  • For her first week, we provided her copies and gave her the lesson plans a week in advance. 

Luckily, she fits right in with us! 

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This transition was truly difficult on all of us. Ultimately, it's a good thing. We had to remind ourselves that everything happens for a reason, and we decided as a team to trust that those students were placed in that new classroom with purpose. It's going to be a great year! 

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