One thing that is definite is that the transition to the classroom should always be supported by different school stakeholders, working hand in hand: as a teacher or internal supervisor, always talk to the pupil’s future teacher and tell them about the pupil’s potential, development, and any challenges he or she might face. More practical tips for ensuring a smooth transition include:
As a supervisor or teacher, you can design a standard form (in collaboration with the board) on which every important factor can be discussed. Send this form to the future teacher and ask them to evaluate the same aspects again in 6 months. This form will help the teacher remain aware of the pupil’s development and will allow both of you to reflect on your assessment.
Ask a teacher/employee to make sure the feedback form is actually returned to you 6 months later: if the mainstream classroom teacher does not send it to you, make sure you get it!
Pair the new pupil with a pupil from the mainstream classroom who can guide and support him or her in the new classroom.
In cooperation with the board, create integration focused internships for new teachers. Assign the intern a number of pupils and let him or her help with the evaluation and transition. You may want to let these interns manage the communication with the mainstream classroom teacher.
For each pupil, make a list or diagram for yourself: what is this pupil good at? Discuss with the team: could the pupil attend a few classes on the topic he or she is good at?
Invite the mainstream classroom teachers to come to your classes/school: organise a viewing day on which mainstream classroom teachers can see how you do things. Give the teachers a chance to put a face to the pupil’s file.
Create a platform together with all the schools you collaborate with, for example through Dropbox or Google Drive. On this platform, create folders on different topics so that teachers can ask questions or come up with suggestions per topic. For example, you could create a folder on language. In this folder, regular teachers can ask specific questions on specific pupils, such as ”Harry is still behind when it comes to reading comprehension, how did you deal with that when he was in your class?”.
Let the pupils make a newsletter together with pupils from mainstream classrooms. Send it to as many mainstream schools as possible.
When do you know whether a pupil can go to the mainstream classroom? Contact the school the pupil would go to in order to find out which methods they use and let the pupil take a few entry tests for these methods.
To summarize, the transitions that newcomer students experience may be challenging processes. These transitions are even more challenging when the school language is unknown of the student. Therefore, to attain the level of continuity that will smoothen the multiple transitions, teachers need to have a working knowledge of language and language teaching.
This knowledge consists of several topics:
- language of schooling, mother tongues and diagnostics;
- language and communication with relatives;
- processes of language learning and multilingualism;
- academic language and the multilingual classroom;
- language and observation, assessment and evaluation.