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Transitioning from the elementary to the middle school: The Journey

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Karen Beaver-Hitz

on 1 May 2013

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Transcript of Transitioning from the elementary to the middle school: The Journey

The Journey Transitioning
from the elementary to the
middle school: A Process, Not a single event Adolescent development The Complexities Anxiety and Worry/Excitement and Fun Student Perceptions Student Social Concerns The Impact of transition on adolescents (National Middle School Association (NMSA), 2000) 1. Evaluate prior transition experiences Physical
Emotional & Psychological
Intellectual 2. Middle school counselor and administration
visit elementary schools
provide specific information
meet the parents
workshops, meetings, discussion groups 3. Develop program
conduct survey of elementary students to decipher needs
elementary school counselor & teachers process with students 4. Conduct open house or orientation
tours, scavenger hunts, meet and greets 5. Communicate with parents
welcome letters 6. Mentor groups for struggling students
offer stable and nonjudgmental source of reassurance (U.S. Department of Education, 2008)
provide an outlet for mentees to express fears and hopes
Peers are often the most frequent resource for students in transition (Akos, 2002).
(remembering that at this stage of development, students are more likely to turn to their peers than adults as they search for their identity) Elementary
School Middle School Akos, P. (2002). Student perceptions of the transition from elementary to middle school. Professional School Counseling, 5 (5), 339-345.

Cullen, M. & Robles-Pina, R. (2009). Grade transitions from elementary to secondary school: What is the impact on students? Southeastern Teacher Education Journal, 2 (1), 31-38.

Holas, I. & Huston, A. C. (2012). Are middle schools harmful? The role of transition timing, classroom quality and school characteristics. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41, 333-345.

Kingery, J. N. & Erdley, C. A. (2007). Peer experiences as predictors of adjustment across the middle school transition. Education and Treatment of Children, 30 (2), 73-88.

Martinez, R. S., Aricak, O. T., Graves, M. N., Peters-Myszak, J., & Nellis, L. (2011). Changes in perceived social support and socioemotional adjustment across the elementary to junior high school transition. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 519-530.

Paciotti, K. D. & Hill, D. (2011/2012). Lessons from the field: The need to incorporate caring organizational practices that enhance success (COPES). CEDER Yearbook, 2011/2012, 67-76.

Shoffner, M. F. & Williamson, R. D. (2000). Facilitating student transitions into middle school. Middle School Journal, 31 (4), 1-8.

U.S. Department of Education (2008). Making the transition to middle school: How mentoring can help. Mentoring Resource Center, No. 24 (September). Retrieved from: http://educationnorthwest.org/webfm_send/207

U.S. Department of Education (2012). Digest of educational statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education Retrieved from: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2012/2012001.pdf

West , M. R. & Schwerdt, G. (2012). The middle school plunge. Education Next, 12 (2), 62-68. References Accountability use of surveys, interviews, and needs assessments Tips for Mentors:
Preparing Mentees for Middle School
Students entering middle school often experience a variety of fears, from how to fi nd their classrooms to worrying
about bullies. Here are some strategies for helping your mentee work through those fears.
Give your mentee opportunities to express his feelings about middle school. If your mentee isn’t bringing up the
topic but you notice that he is more distracted or stressed out than usual, initiate a conversation. Acknowledge
the change that is coming and ask open-ended questions to see if anything is worrying him.
Don’t minimize his fears and concerns. It’s tempting to try to downplay them or respond with a blanket statement
like “You’ll be fi ne.” Sometimes just listening and empathizing is enough. Listen to what he has to say and
off er practical suggestions if it appears he wants your advice.
Help your mentee overcome fears of the unknown. If she’s worried about opening a combination lock, bring
one for her to practice on. If getting between classes sounds impossible, get a stopwatch and create a course
so she can see how long it takes to get from one place to another. If homework sounds scary, ask her teacher or
counselor to provide some guidance. Make sure she knows where the bus stop is.
Talk about your own transitions, during middle school or any time in your life. Strategic self-disclosure may be a
useful tool to help your mentee see that his worries are normal and expected. You may even get a laugh or two
as you describe your own experiences and how you handled them.
Help your mentee get organized. Middle school means more homework and a greater need to stay organized
to keep up with assignments from multiple teachers. You can relieve your mentee’s worries about schoolwork
by helping him develop his organizational skills. Look at how his work is currently organized and off er tips for
improvements, and talk about how he can organize his free time to get homework done.
Help your mentee set goals for getting involved in new things. Look at elective class off erings together and
check out extracurricular activities. Talk about how an after-school activity can help her make new friends, and
how elective classes allow her to follow her own interests with students who share them.
Point out your mentee’s strengths and abilities. Early adolescence is a time of plummeting self-esteem and selfconfi
dence. Find ways to remind your mentee about her abilities and how they will help her be successful in
her new school. Be specifi c in your praise. For example, “You’ve really gotten organized with your schoolwork
this year. That will help a lot when you start middle school.”
Talk about friendships. Changing schools doesn’t have to mean losing friendships. See if your mentee can
name some students he wants to get to know better who are going to the new school. Talk about how he has
made new friends in the past. Remind him he has friends in other settings, too—in the neighborhood, place of
worship, or sports activities. And let him know you will be there for him in the coming year also.
Support your mentee throughout the fi rst year of middle school. Your mentee’s worries won’t disappear when
she enters the middle school for the fi rst time. Adjusting to the new school and fi nding her place there will take
time, and she is bound to feel discouraged at times. As she comes to you with problems and concerns, listen
and use open questions to help her problem-solve on her own. You can’t fi x her problems for her, but you can
off er your own perspectives.
Seek out help for your mentee if problems persist. Mentors sometimes see academic struggles, changes in
behavior, or signs of emotional stress before teachers and other school staff . If you believe your mentee needs
additional help, alert your program coordinator. Middle schools usually have more resources than elementary
schools to help students through a diffi cult period. Your role is to help your mentee and his family learn about
these resources and encourage your mentee to access them when needed.

Retrieved from: U.S. Department of Education (2008). http://educationnorthwest.org/webfm_send/207 Post transition:
Review expectations
study skills
social skills Empower students to
advocate for
themselves and to seek
support from
appropriate sources Consider developmental stage, coping abilities, student's ability to be flexible as well as the systemic and contextual factors in play (Akos, 2002)
Students transitioning from 5th to 6th grade
4 phases
Perhaps a second set of data in Phase four identifying needs of students who did not successfully transition A study by Patrick Akos (2002)
331 5th grade students:
59% white, 37% black, 4% other
45% free or reduced lunch program
phase 3 & 4 included 1/3 of original sample
phase 4 participants were purposefully selected due to a successful transition 28% - rules & procedures
16% - class schedules
11% - gym class
9% - expectations
9% - lunch
27% - other
extracurricular activities
sports Focus of Questions Concerns 14% - older students
13% - homework
12% - using the locker
12% - getting good grades Positive Aspects 16% - making friends
15% - gym class
11% - using the locker
10% - changing classes
10% - getting good grades What will Middle School be like? 45% - Fun
14% - Exciting
11% - Cool
9% - Hard/Scary Whom do you turn to? 35% - friends
22% - parents
21% - teachers
14% - school counselor
8% - other
other family Questions regarding middle school 34% - NO questions
16% - rules and procedures
15% - homework
7% - classes Concerns 24% - Bullies/older students
19% - getting lost
19% - doing well in classes
14% - NO concerns
7% - being late to class Phase I: Students' questions regarding middle school (Jan. of 5th grade) Phase II: Students' concerns, perception, opinion on positive aspects, and whom they turn to for help (May of 5th grade) Phase III: Students' questions and concerns (August of 6th grade) Phase IV: What was difficult, were the best aspects, who helped, and what would you like current 5th graders to know (Dec. of 6th grade) Most Difficult Aspects 26% - Getting Lost
13% - Making friends
11% - learning the class schedule
10% - lockers
8% - being tardy
5% - None Best Aspects 43% - Freedom/Choices
18% - Friends
16% - Classes
13% - lockers
<5% - other Who Helped 40% - Friends
23% - Teachers
19% - parents
11% - other family
8% - school counselor What to tell the 5th graders 23% - about the rules
18% - expectations/responsibilities
10% - location of classrooms and other items
9% - It's fun
8% - nice teachers
6% - It's not hard Implications despite their adolescence and ability to think more maturely, they still need an 'elementary' orientation to become accustomed to rules/expectations/procedures
creating a transition program is complex due to the wide range of reported student 'worries'
each school must create a transition program that is unique to their school/students
transition programs need to focus on students' enthusiasm and confidence (solution-focused) Include middle school classrooms in evaluations
students taught by efficacious teachers achieve more... (Holas & Huston, 2012)
test scores
teacher-rated achievement
school engagement
perceived self-competence Grade level configurations matter, but ultimately if classrooms and school characteristics are of higher quality in which students' sense of competence is supported, their negative aspects can be overcome (Holas & Huston, 2012) Perceived social support declines through the transition experience, including 'close friend support' and 'school support' (Martinez, Aricak, Graves, Peters-Myszak, and Nellis, 2011).

Conducting peer strengthening guidance lessons the year prior to transition is recommended Adolescence marks a
time of rapid physical
growth as students
mature at different
rates. Erikson:

Role Confusion According to Erikson,
there are four arenas of
identity: Religious
sexual Kolberg's
Moral Reasoning Depending on grade
configuration of the
school and the student: Level II: Conventional Moral Reasoning
Level III: Postconventional Moral Reasoning Stage 3: "good girl" & "nice boy" (few students)
Stage 4: "Law and Order" (most students)
Stage 5: Social Contract (few students) Psychosocial
Development (U.S. Department of Education, 2012) The impact on academic achievement may be related to the concerns reported by students.

Research shows that students who do not transition (K-8 schools) fair better academically compared to students who do transition (Cullen & Robles-Pina, 2009). However further research needs to be conducted.

West and Schwerdt (2012) found that students entering middle schools drop in achievement an equivalent of 3.5 and 7 months of expected learning through the course of a 10 month school year.

The impact on high risk students is even greater due to lack of resources. Academic impact tied to social concerns? Caring Organizational
Practices that Enhance
Success (COPES) Use of strategies and structures must be utilized for students to be successful color coding binders/books
consistency between classes
guidance from teachers (Paciotti & Hill, 2011/2012) Perceived decrease in school support Implement strategies that nurture student/adult relationships Increase of stress due to managing different expectations from various teachers Enhance coping skills
Address fears, concerns, and excitements Involve parents (Shoffner & Williamson, 2000) Social Development Students who perceive lower peer acceptance typically experience difficulties in the following areas: behavior
peers. Kingery & Erdley (2007) Possible Interventions Teaching problem solving skills
Teaching coping skills
Teaching friendship/social skills school wide anti-bullying procedures
Teaching conflict mediation skills http://prezi.com/hxkyx5tlet0q/annville-elementary-transition/?kw=view-hxkyx5tlet0q&rc=ref-25887779
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