8 Simple Ways to Make Changing Grade Levels Easier

by | Jun 25, 2019 | Back to School, Teaching Strategies | 0 comments

As your time in this school year comes to an end, you could be experiencing mixed emotions. Are you pleased with how this year went? Are you looking forward to next year?

One big question teachers have at the end of each year is, “What am I teaching next year?” As administration shifts and changes where students are placed, teachers get shifted and changed around – whether they want to or not.

Some teachers stay in the same grade and classroom year after year. Others seemed to be assigned a new grade and classroom frequently.

Teaching a new grade can feel overwhelming for a teacher, especially if it is a drastic change, such as a teacher who taught kindergarten being transferred to 4th grade.

With this new assignment can come a lot of stress and worry. Will I like teaching this grade level? Will I get along with my new team?

If you are in the middle of transitioning grade levels or know a fellow teacher who is, take a look at these tips for making this switch easier on yourself.

See the Transition as a Positive

You may not have asked for a new grade level, but you received one anyway. Don’t spend your time wishing for a different situation. Instead, find the benefits of your new grade level! Having a positive outlook is half the battle in any transition.

When I started student teaching, I was placed with a sixth-grade teacher. I was petrified and tried to change grade levels. In the end, I loved teaching the older students and went on to teach sixth grade for many years.

Prepare to Be Uncomfortable

Even if you are only moving one grade level up or down, things will be different. It doesn’t matter how much or how little planning you do before the school year, there will be adjustments to the new grade level. Something will come your way that you didn’t mentally prepare for, and that is okay. With this change comes some feelings of nervousness and awkwardness. This is totally expected!

Communicate with Colleagues

If you know who is on your new grade level team, communicate with them! Meet up with them and go over curriculum mapping and lesson planning. Ask them questions about the age group and the particular challenges that come with it. Meeting with people who have taught the grade before will give you some practical insights on how to handle your new class.

Think Through Your Classroom Setup

Think through the little things like where you new students’ arms can reach and where their eyes go. If you’ve worked with fifth grade and are moved to kindergarten, you will clearly need to shift your setup. If you worked with younger students and are moving to a higher grade, you will need to think about how to connect with those kids.

Learn Your New Standards

As you know, educational standards change by grade level. Before you even start lesson planning, make sure you review the standards of your new grade level. (It is easy to slip back into comfortable lessons from the previous grade’s standards.)

It is also helpful to review the standards of the grade before the one you are moving to. This will help you to know what students should be able to do at the beginning of the school year.

Think Through Your Classroom Tools

If you have a drastic switch in grades, it might be time to put some of your current classroom tools away. Think through what you have out in your classroom right now and how you might need to adapt your classroom to your new grade level.

Learn Your New Schedule

With a new grade level comes a new schedule. Familiarize yourself with your new schedule. Granted, you may not know your specific schedule until closer to the beginning of the year, but consider looking at the yearly calendar. What types of testing will your grade level have? Are there specific field trips they take? Are there any other annual events that you will need to work around?


Learn Developmental Differences

Your new grade level will have a whole new set of challenges, both academically and developmentally. Take the time you need to consider what the differences will be in your new students so you can better prepare yourself and your lessons. If you usually spend 15 minutes cutting something out with first graders, know that the same item should take a fourth-grade class less time to complete.

Transitioning grade levels can be a tough thing for any teacher, but it can also be an exciting time to challenge yourself professionally.

Have you ever transitioned teaching grade levels? What did you do to prepare yourself? I’d love to hear! Comment below to give us other tips.

Over twenty plus years, my educational career has spanned four continents and two states, as well as eight grade levels!

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