Let’s get real, classroom spaces as of late are filled with new faces; sometimes there is a notification of these staff changes or it may be new information as they walk in the door. It is difficult to feel empowered and find joy when the conditions that you may be working in feel unstable. Everyday we are modeling warm welcoming to young children when they enter our spaces with their families. How can we invite these new faces in?
Here are a few experiences that help both staff and children acclimate to their time together:
- Who’s in the mirror? – Name Experience
Use a mirror in your classroom in a new place to invite the experience of viewing together. Ask questions that help children learn names. (e.g. How many faces can fit in the mirror? Name who you see in the mirror?)
- ”Hot Potato” – Name game
In a large group sit in a circle. Find a ball or other materials to pass around the circle. Start with name introductions, have children repeat the names they hear. Going slow at first practice passing to the person next to you as you all say the name together all the way around the circle. To add challenge, increase speed, add music, or change the direction of passing.
- The Things We Like – Relationship Building Experience
The purpose of this activity is for new staff to make individual connections with children in the class. Place a sorting tray in the middle of the table. Have children and new faces collect some collage materials from the art shelf to sort into the tray. In front of each person, place the first letter of their name in front of them through sensory letters or write it on a paper. Take turns choosing the materials each individual likes and placing it on their letter.
- New Perspectives – Relationship Building Experience
In this experience, invite children to view themselves and others through a variety of different physical perspectives and tools. Prompt children by asking “I wonder what it looks like when…?” Climb up on the loft or go to the other side of the room. Utilize binoculars, shape viewers, or magnifying glasses. Discuss your observations together and encourage everyone to come up with their own perspective to take. New staff get to know the layout of the classroom, children’s personalities, and accessible materials for the week.
Use what you have! Materials that provoke children to see things from varied perspectives like mirrored blocks or viewers with various shapes, colors, and magnification add to the experience of learning who this new person is.
Reflect on the ways introduction has been a part of the school year. Download the attached reflection journal to take a moment to consider how to implement welcoming new staff into a unique space and classroom community.
Through these experiences of play, connection , and reflection we provide a consistency in introduction so that children trust that when there is a new face in their space that person will be welcomed and known. We can create a routine of joy through getting to know new faces.