Using Empathy to Eliminate “New Kid” Anxiety

Everyone’s been the new kid once. Do you remember how you felt? How old you were? Were you nervous? For many children, moving to a new school is one of the toughest challenges they are subject to face in their formative years, especially for those belonging to marginalized groups. Transitioning to a new school can be quite frightening, especially if they don’t feel welcome. It is vital to new students that we, as educators, use our authority to enhance their learning experiences based on their specific needs. We can only truly achieve this through equity.

Photo by Yan Krukov 

One way to do this is by ensuring everyone at your school – leaders, educators, and students alike – is eager to help make new students feel welcomed. Lending support can be as simple as a smile while passing them in the hallway, using their preferred names (despite their pronunciation), and telling them your story. Building relationships with your pupils gives you the knowledge you need to meet their specific needs, while showing them we support them in their learning environment. Encouraging other students to offer support is also an effective way to ensure a student transitioning to a new school feels comfortable. The willingness to extend that kindness to everyone, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, or financial status is key to making them feel accepted in your educational community. 

Your work doesn’t end once everyone is familiar with the student. Progress is not linear, and neither are students’ specific needs. Understanding this is essential in ensuring an equitable learning environment. Disorganization, forgetfulness, struggling to complete assignments, and changes in mood are a few signs to look out for in your pupils. These signs are indicators that a particular student might be struggling and need extra support from you as their mentor.  

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

More often than not, a student’s negative outlook towards school comes from a lack of support and resources. An empathetic educator will consider the student’s situation and determine how they can provide additional support. As a role model, it is your responsibility to form relationships with every one of your students and provide guidance as necessary. By doing this, every student has a chance at becoming successful, because they’re each getting what they need, rather than what you think they need based on assumptions. When you provide support based on the child’s needs, you also provide a safe space for them to overcome their struggles, rather than contributing to them.  

As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that every student is getting their needs met. Everyone’s experience is unique. In each child’s perspective lies an opportunity for us, as mentors, to help guide them toward success. Helping rid students of “New Kid” anxiety is only part of the bigger picture. If you are looking for guidance through your commitment to cultivate equity in your institution, GOMO Educational Services can assist. We provide invaluable training and resources that will strengthen your teaching and leadership experience into one that fosters equity through empathy, passion along with social emotional learning (SEL) habits. Contact us today and begin your learning evolution! 

Educators, how are you fostering equity in your classrooms? Leaders, how are you encouraging your educators in this pursuit? Share your comments below.