July 25, 2021

Tips for Preparing for a New Student Orientation

TStudent Orientation
A new school year brings a sense of excitement, promise and anticipation. As a result, this special time also brings added anxiety for students, parents, and teachers. Fortunately, schools use the “new student orientation” as a tool to help clear up confusion and avoid any unnecessary panic. In today’s post we are recommending some helpful “Tips for Preparing for a New Student Orientation.”

Who is a Student Orientation Designed for?

Typically, orientations cater to students at a new school. This type of event encourages students to fully embrace the activities, curriculum, and opportunities available to them. Students who participate in these types of events and embrace its purpose most often are successful and graduate from the school.

Graduate

What Should a New Student Orientation Include?

What should a new student orientation include? This is not an answer that would be the same for all music educators. Priorities, time constraints, and site-based values will influence how an educator should prepare.

You want to prepare your students for a successful year but not overwhelm them. If your preparation and presentation are logically structured, you will have the makings of a quality event.

The timing of your presentation could be limited to 10 minutes or be as long as an hour. Think of this as an opportunity to express the basic expectations and learning objectives that you have of them as music students.

Music Educator learning and procedural objectives may include:
  • The general performance activity expectations of the music class.
  • The rehearsal schedule and performance requirements of the class.
  • Lifestyle expectations as a member of your performing group.
  • Rules and policies of the school and music program.
  • A summary of the required financial obligations.
  • A summary of how students will be graded.
Other common topics that you may choose to include in a new student orientation include:
  • Teacher and staff introductions.
  • Music or name-oriented icebreaker.
  • Explanation of team culture and growth mindset.
  • Possible extracurricular opportunities available to your students.
  • Tips for time-management and behavioral strategies.

Learning the System

Virtual learning strategies aided in the extensive use of Learning Management Systems this year during CoVid-19. A brief introduction and demonstration of the required LMS used at the school could also be a valuable piece of information to share with students. Consequently, it is unlikely that students would have their login information available to them at the time of the orientation.

Recommendations for Getting the Most Out of Student Orientations

#1 Work out the Logistics in Advance

To start out it is important to know when and where you will be meeting your students for class. For many instrumental music teachers, this is the same location every year. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for everyone. Be sure to arrive early before a student orientation to prepare any materials, set-up directional signs and greet any students that arrive early. Remember you want your room to look welcoming and inviting.

#2 Understand Your School’s Orientation Program/ Process

Most schools provide students and families an agenda for the student orientation. This notification may also include a list of items to bring with them. Be sure to familiarize yourself with this notification so it will not catch you off-guard. Also become familiar with any academic decisions a student may face during the orientation time. This could include choosing an advanced degree track that would require a student to sign-up for certain classes. In certain cases, this could significantly hinder a music program’s enrollment. Be pro-active and provide potential future students a sample schedule to sign-up for so that they remain active in your music program.

#3 Dress Professionally

You want to provide students and or families the best first impression possible. Dress professionally, look sharp and communicate to others that you are there for their success. In some cases, a principal may request teachers to wear a school shirt however, if not be sure to dress for success. 

Professional Dress

#4 Use the Opportunity to Meet New People

Often when students come to a school, they tend to interact with people they know. Rather, use this opportunity to help students become familiar with people they do not know. New interactions could include meeting unfamiliar staff, students in the class and parent volunteers. Students will be spending a lot of time with these people. The sooner everyone is comfortable, with each other, the sooner collaborative projects can take flight and future friendships can be forged.

#5 Don’t Be Afraid to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Teachers and students alike should try to step out of their comfort zones. This includes being open to trying new things and meet new people. If your student orientation includes some sort of activity fair, go out of your way to meet new students, and encourage them to join your program or club. In many secondary music programs, we often have students who have been enrolled in previous feeder programs. Taking a step out to meet new students during an activity fair may be just the nudge needed to build your program even more and be a way to reinvent the way you recruit.

#6 Understand that there will be Downtime

Understand that not all schools treat student orientations the same. Sometimes there are activities or transition times that you will not be apart of. This could be due to students getting ID pictures taken or even a mass presentation by the school’s principal. Take this opportunity to mingle, read your favorite book or whip out the laptop to get ahead on a lesson plan.

#7 Get to know Your School as if You Were a Student

For many music educators, understanding a student’s perspective is not as simple as you may think. The “orientation” is an excellent time to walk in the footsteps of your students. Walk to each of your school’s activity hubs such as the cafeteria, gym, library, office, or any area of interest. Orientations often provide campus maps and having this resource will better help you, help your students.

#8 Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Before, after, or during an orientation ask questions, lots of them. The better versed you are in policies and procedures, the better you can communicate them with students. Students love asking questions and you do not want to be that adult who responds with “because” or even worse “I don’t know.” Students tend to follow rules, policies, and procedures if there is a clear answered “why statement” connected to a policy. Obviously, there are exceptions to this point, but students want to trust and feel safe around teachers. By providing logical responses to questions, it helps put student minds and emotions at ease.

Ask Questions

#9 Have Fun and Share the Energy!

Even though you are dealing with school business it does not mean it can’t be fun. Keep the energy positive and avoid additional stress by being proactively organized. Student orientation is a wonderful time to envision all of the great times you will have with your new students.

Final Thoughts

A new student orientation serves as an excellent opportunity to get the year started out right. If you approach the event in a professional, success-oriented, and positive manner, then often that is how it will be interpreted. Encourage your best student musicians to participate and help make an even stronger connection with your new students. Hopefully, these tips will provide you a helpful insight into having a successful beginning of the year “new student orientation.”

Sources

10 Ways to Make the Most of Your New Student Orientation. Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. (2020, April 8). https://www.jkcf.org/our-stories/10-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-new-student-orientation/.

Barnes, P. by L. (2020, August 14). What Should Be Included in a New Student Orientation? Milady. https://milady.cengage.com/blog/what-should-be-included-in-a-new-student-orientation.

Engelman, H. (2019, December 23). 10 Tips to Conduct a Great Student Orientation Program. Involvio. https://www.involvio.com/blog/10-tips-to-conduct-a-great-student-orientation-program.

 

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