Being new can be tough, especially on kids! It can be difficult for adults as well.
The new school year is upon us or perhaps in some cases has already begun. Undoubtedly, there will be new students and teachers on every school campus regardless of state or country.
NEW KID IN TOWN
We’ve all been the new person at some point in our lives. It can be really tough. Some people do well in this situation but some struggle to be bold enough to meet new people, to introduce themselves, and forge their way into a particular setting. Strangely enough we all know that it can be very lonely even in a room full of people.
I’ve been an educator for 21 years and I am 52 years old. I try to attend conferences in different areas and places. Sometimes I feel very alone when I am the only one from my school or district and other schools have teams or have those established relationships. I have had to make myself be bold enough to meet others. It’s not always been that way. Fortunately, most of the time other educators are very accepting and understand that same feeling.
With all of us knowing that difficulty of fitting in, think about that kid that is new to a school. That’s so difficult. It breaks my heart when I see a kid sitting alone at a table during lunch or standing alone outside in the morning before school. Sometimes they are alone even when they’ve been at a school for some time. That is equally difficult as being new somewhere.
BE A BUDDY
As the new school year begins be a buddy or mentor to someone. It might be a student and it might be a fellow staff member. Hopefully, all schools try to assign buddies and mentors to new students and staff members. It helps so much for someone to show “the new guy” the ropes. It is so difficult to be somewhere and not know anyone or not know where to go or what to do. It can deflate a person’s confidence quickly.
ISOLATION IS BAD
We don’t want kids isolated. We know not only from research and data but our own personal experiences with kids that isolation can lead to being bullied, depression, and other mental health issues. A brain imaging study by the University of Michigan suggests that the same parts of the brain that are activated by social rejection as by physical pain. This is significant in that teens choose to isolate themselves for protection from pain. I could go on with data that we all know exists but I think we all see the point.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSON
Perhaps the most important lesson is that we need to help our students be helpful and kind to not only new students but those that isolate themselves too. Character education and mental health education is so important! However, we can be a living lesson every day in the example we set in how we treat others. It’s important to BE THAT EXAMPLE!
Bottom line: It’s tough to be new and/or alone! Let’s take it upon ourselves as leaders to not allow those kids to be isolated.