First, I asked the students to raise their hand if they had ever moved to Dudley (meaning they did not attend school here since Kindergarten). Surprisingly, over half of the students raised their hand. Awesome! Empathy should come easier! :) We discussed how hard it is coming to a new school where you don't know anyone's name, or where the gym, library, bathrooms, etc. are. Then, I read them the story First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg. This story is typically read to younger students in Kindergarten or 1st grade and usually only at the beginning of the year, but it was the PERFECT book to help explain that teachers get nervous when they are new too. The story is about a girl who doesn't want to go to her new school, because she is very nervous. All the students think the girl is a new student, but at the end it turns out to be the teacher!
Since I did this lesson on Valentine's Day, I included an activity that seems to be very popular. I cut out a heart from red construction paper and told students this is Mrs. Valentine's heart (our new teacher). Then, I asked students what are some things that students could say or do that would hurt Mrs. Valentine's feelings? After each response I crumpled a piece of the heart. After the heart was balled up and in bad disrepair, I asked students what are some things they could say or do that would help Mrs. Valentine feel welcomed at Dudley. After each kind response I straightened a part of the heart back out. Finally, the heart started looking like a heart again, but it was still ripped in places and wrinkled, so we had a discussion about thinking before we say or do hurtful things, because even after apologizing and being kind it doesn't take away the hurt someone feels after you've been mean to them.
Finally, I had every student fill out this All About Me Robot worksheet to help Mrs. Valentine get to know her students better. The students liked this because they love sharing fun facts about themselves. I created a bulletin board with a big robot on it and Mrs. Valentine filled it out with important stuff about her. Below is a picture of the board. All in all this lesson was very successful and it could be adapted for introducing a new student as well.