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Transition to Middle School Dr. John Harrison NC Middle School Association Model Schools Conference Orlando, Florida June 2010 Session 61.

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Presentation on theme: "Transition to Middle School Dr. John Harrison NC Middle School Association Model Schools Conference Orlando, Florida June 2010 Session 61."— Presentation transcript:

1 Transition to Middle School Dr. John Harrison NC Middle School Association Model Schools Conference Orlando, Florida June 2010 Session 61

2 Students WILL Transition, but will they Transition Successfully?

3 A Quick Reality Check… Adolescent The Latin root of this word meansto blossom or grow & first appears in English in 1440 So regardless of what we call them, middle schoolers have been around for a while

4 The self-esteem of children who have just transitioned to middle school or junior high tends to be significantly lowered. So are their test scores. A major reason is the disruption of established social networks at a time when social activities are importance to young adolescents. Wigfield & Eccles Why Worry?

5 What Students Say About the Transition to Middle School When I first started the 6th grade I didn't know what to do or what to think. Teachers don't know about how hard it is for a sixth grader to feel good and how a lot of kids are scared of life. Sixth grade is like kindergarten, like starting all over again. From NMSAs "Transition to A Middle Level School: What Kids Say,"

6 Kids Going to Middle School Fear… Lockers Getting through crowded halls without getting lost or hassled by bigger kids The lunchroom Bullying Fitting in/not fitting in Looking Stupid, and once again… Lockers

7 When students are worrying, they are not learning…

8 Parents of New Middle Schoolers Have Fears, Too. And They DO Impact Schools and Classrooms… Puberty/Adolescence Losing their babies Losing control Being disconnected & irrelevant Not having the power/impact they had on elementary classrooms (cupcakes)

9 Strategies for Successful Transitions to Middle School 1. Begin transition activities in the springtime. Make sure you visit the elementary school Be careful about bringing students into a busy middle school Think about structure. Often open, unstructured visits right before school starts, and formal back to school a week or two later works well Bring students into the school in the afternoon or evening Ensure that counselors, social workers, special education, ESL, and other programs are part of the transition Be overt in planning activities that visibly include BOTH elementary and middle school staff

10 Strategies for Successful Transitions to Middle School 2. Use multiple communication streams Utilize , phone-master, letters Involve community organizations: civic, faith-based, sports If your school has a PTA, PTO, or other parent organization, a call over the summer welcoming a family to the middle school is a powerful ice-breaker Sending school students can be paired with a buddy for both orientation and relationship-building purposes Dont forget the teachable moment of pen-pals. Incoming students can write letters to middle school students with questions, concerns, etc.

11 Strategies for Successful Transitions to Middle School 3. Establish a plan to ensure all students have an advocate. Advisory Many young adolescents suffer from feelings of isolation and loneliness, and advisory activities allow them to connect with caring adults and other students to help through the rough spots –NASSPs Breaking Ranks in the Middle Classroom activities also provide opportunities for being an advocate If there are mentoring programs in place for elementary students, make sure to discuss whether they can/should continue in the middle school. Dont let students fall between the cracks because of transition to middle school.

12 Strategies for Successful Transitions to Middle School 4. Know whos coming, and what it is they need. Discuss with elementary school who might be better off separated, together, with a particular teacher Talk about IEPs to reduce the likelihood of surprises Ensure that parents of special needs, gifted, English Language Learners, and others are in the loop If you can hand out school handbooks/guidelines/rules to parents, it helps them understand policies and procedures. Kids are notoriously bad at relaying this information in a sensible way to parents.

13 Strategies for Successful Transitions to Middle School 5. Meet with parents. Have parent meetings on nature of the young adolescent Educate parents on how middle school is different Tell parents what to expect Again… spend time on the front-end with the parents of special populations Remind parents that middle school is not what it was when they were in 6 th grade

14 Strategies for Successful Transitions to Middle School 6. Utilize strategies that maximize student interaction. Encourage the use of interdisciplinary teaming whenever possible Teach students how to participate in cooperative groups, and model frequently at first how to get into, and behave as part of a group. Try jigsaw activities where students can be the expert. Provide both structured, and unstructured time for students to talk with each other Get students involved in service learning early on. Dont wait for the holidays.

15 Strategies for Successful Transitions to Middle School 7. In the midst of all the conversations, dont forget to talk about curriculum. Elementary and middle school administrators, curriculum specialists, and support staff should have ongoing conversations about curriculum alignment. Are students where theyre supposed to be? Ahead? Behind? Give students voice in curriculum decisions at the beginning of the year. What do you want to read? What should we study first? What do we want to know about…?

16 School & Classroom Activities After the Students Arrive Take time to teach use of planners/ agendas, then hold Jeopardy quizzes to see who know what Hold a fashion show with dress code dos and donts Teach note-taking skills. VERY few entering students have these skills

17 School & Classroom Activities After the Students Arrive Practice locker combinations. Repeatedly. Model time management Help students get to know each other. Two truths and a lie, name games, scavenger hunts… and dont forget to include the biographical in the my summer vacation essays.

18 A Word About Time… Yes… all this stuff does take time. Sometimes a lot of it; however, time you invest in transition activities on the front-end of the year will be saved many times over by the end of the year.

19 How Elementary Teachers Can Help Take the mystery & fear out Accentuate the positive Raise the bar graduallyincreasing academic rigor levels & introducing common middle school instructional strategies Model strategies for good organization (theyll need it)

20 Tips and Tricks for Teachers Discuss with students what to do if/when they get behind Contact families during the summer Dont assume students are OK. They are great at hiding What they really feel Problem-solving/investigation is a great tool for engaging shy learners

21 Tips and Tricks for Teachers Rules determined democratically by students, and written in positive terms in their own handwriting, are FAR more likely to be observed than laminated Thou shalt not's. Write down what works to save it for next year. Youd be surprised how quickly you forget!

22 How Parents Can Help Dont buy a backpack that holds 50 lbs. Practice lock combinations Walk kids to class pointing out bathrooms and shortest routes Increase their own understanding of adolescent development Share with first-time parents

23 Questions?

24 Contact Information Dr. John Harrison NC Middle School Association PO Box 5216 Pinehurst, NC


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