6th Graders transitioning from elementary to middle school

Discussion in 'Sixth Grade' started by FutureFLTeacher, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. FutureFLTeacher

    FutureFLTeacher Companion

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    Jul 25, 2007

    Hello everyone!

    This is my first year teaching...and I'm incredibly excited as well as a bit nervous to boot.

    I'll be teaching 6th grade life science at a middle school. Here in Florida (I think in many other states too) elementary is K through
    5th and middle school is 6th through 8th.

    Those of you who already teach in middle schools with these grade level distributions, how do you find the students transition from elementary into middle school? Is it tough for them to adjust to a new environment with a bell schedule, etc.? I'm trying to prepare so I can make their first year in middle school as relaxing and stress free as possible. (Hopefully making mine the very same! LOL)

    Thanks to everyone for any and all suggestions, insights and the like!

    Here's to us all have a spectacular school year!!! ;)
     
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  3. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    Jul 25, 2007

    I was overwhelmed. I went from a straight A student to the worst grades in my life. I got pulled out of honors classes and transitioned much better. I did so well I got put back in honors classes the year after, but didn't have a problem again. I also thought I was grown and tried to do more grown up things (wearing makeup, cursing). Before I was in 7th grade I also discovered that that was not really acting grow up so I stopped. Some kids may not be ready for middle school and act out or their grades may suffer because of it.
     
  4. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jul 26, 2007

    Don't take anything I say too literally because I'll be a first year teacher as well. But I did a semester of student teaching 6th, a semester of 8th, and am finishing teaching 6th summer school (those going into 7th).

    What I have learned is you can't expect them to perform like high schoolers (this was hard for me walking out of a college program and being used to showing up on time and doing your work). Yes they have a difficult time transitioning, but some more than others. You have to remember they're used to 1 teacher for all subjects, now they have probably at least 4 if not more. Teachers with different rules, different expectations, different policies. It's easy to get confused.

    I think one of the most important things to do with them to help them adjust is teach them good student skills. I'm not just talking about studying. They are taking on more responsibility and developing their individual selves . They are not quite independent, but slowly gaining independence. You HAVE to show them how to do everything. Which seems juvenille at first, but it'll save you frustration if you teach them how YOU want things done. Whether it's labeling their paper, putting bookbags underneath seats, learning to take notes when you are writing on the board/overhead projector, remembering to write down their homework in their planner daily, or how to abide by your restroom procedures.

    If you haven't already I'd recommend buying Harry Wong's First Days of School, worth every penny.

    Basically what I'm saying is this comes down to them learning procedures and understanding YOUR expectations of THEIR performance. They are earning their grades; You do not GIVE them out. Ask them what they will do to earn an A. And also very importantly, ensure they know you are there to HELP them, not fail them. They need to become comfortable asking you question during class or after class (if they are embarassed) They need to speak up if they "dont get it". Otherwise how can you help them?

    Ok..stepping off the soapbox now.
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jul 26, 2007

    Well said, ayotte04!
     
  6. Mrs.Gould

    Mrs.Gould Comrade

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    Jul 26, 2007

    I agree with what Ayotte04 said. When I taught 6th before it was at a middle school where the kids were coming for the first time. I actually liked it that way because I felt the kids didn't act out as much (AT FIRST!) because they were in a new place and were unsure of themselves. However, I am not in a building grade 4-7 (weird combo, I know!) so I'm interested to see how different it is since the students have already been in the school and don't need to adjust as much.
     
  7. MrsLilHen

    MrsLilHen Comrade

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    Jul 26, 2007

    I think the number one thing to remember is that they are still kids. I think sometimes in a Middle School, we forget that they aren't even teenagers yet! I like to start my year really getting to know my students (I'm self contained, so I know it is easier to do that for me) and I try to remember that even whent the content is difficult, I'm teaching children, not content.
    I also think it is important to remember what this age group needs - socializing, active learning, and lots of physical activity. Humor will take you far too.

    I really recommend checking out some of the resources from Responsive Classroom.

    Most kids end up loving 6th grade in my school. We make it a "soft landing" into Middle school. I think if you can make learning fun, and always remember that they are still kids, you'll have them transitioned very quickly!
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2007
  8. FutureFLTeacher

    FutureFLTeacher Companion

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    Jul 26, 2007

    Thanks to everyone for the wonderful replies! :)

    Knowing that these kids are bound to be as overwhelmed in their new environment as I am, I plan to do everything I can to make their year fun, relaxing and as educational as possible.

    I'm reading "The First Six Weeks of School" and "The First Year Teacher's Survival Kit: Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools & Activities for Meeting the Challenges of Each School Day"...so far they've both offered up some incredibly helpful information. That combined with the great insight you all have offered me, I'm truly looking forward to the upcoming school year! :2up: :thanks:
     
  9. 4evrteacher

    4evrteacher New Member

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    Jul 28, 2007

    That's funny that you say in FL elem is K-5. In my district, Clay County, it is actually K-6. I was hired as a 6th grade teacher at an elementary school here. (Will also be my first year teaching) I hope to ask and share alot of info with you all.
     
  10. FutureFLTeacher

    FutureFLTeacher Companion

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    Jul 28, 2007

    I should've said in my county in Florida, for some reason I figured most of the state had changed over to having 6th grade in middle school...sorry about that!
     
  11. wldywall

    wldywall Connoisseur

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    Jul 28, 2007

    Another thing to remember, and this comes not from a teacher that will teach a section of 6th grade social studies for the first time, but a parent of 6th graders. My daughter is going into 7th, she was 12, more mature, and ready for the responsiblity, she was also developmentatllly right in par with the other kids (I mean that kind of development) My son, who starts 6th grade soon, is only 11, acts younger than his age, and is shorter and smaller than the other kids. I know he will have a harder time adjusting.

    So be aware that girls develop faster than boys, some are just behind the curve, and you will have a MASSIVE range in developmental stages.....child A may be matrue and ready to go out of the gate, however child C may need until May to be ready for 6th grade and will need extra help that whole time.
     
  12. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jul 29, 2007

    In my school, elementary is K-5. Yet there are K-8 schools in our district (Hernando) as well...

    I've been to a few of the schools in Clay County. :) I guess it's up to what districts want...

    I enjoyed reading this overall post, anyway.
     
  13. logan_morgan

    logan_morgan Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2007

    As I've said in another post, I teach in a single grade school - 300 sixth graders in one building. It's a good transition from self-contained to middle school because we do a modified middle school setting. Our kids are in teams of 60-90 kids and only have 2/3 teachers per team, excluding specialists like Fine Arts and P.E. As ayotte04 stated, it's most important to teach - and reteach - school skills like getting materials to class, organization, keeping up with assignments, time management, etc. I feel like we teach those skills the entire year, but the first 6 weeks are the real test. Another good point in an earlier post is that there will be a HUGE range in terms of maturity. We do frequent binder and locker checks and help them clean out and organize both. It may seem like you are beating your head against the wall with some kids, but it's setting them up for success.
     
  14. rauksu

    rauksu New Member

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    Aug 22, 2007

    I have been teaching transitioning 6th graders for the past 4 years. Our team spends a lot of the first week helping students get adjusted. On the first day each team teacher shows students different things. One teacher gives them a tour of the building and shows them where their electives are, another goes over the student planner and school rules, another goes over Cougar Cash (our incentive system), and the last one goes over team rules/discipline. This seems to work well because it allows each of us to still have time to explain our subject areas & policies and doesnt bombard the students with a ton of info all at the same time.

    The first week is always a challenge and expect there to be some crying from the more sensitive students. Coming from high school I did not expect them to want to hug me at the end of class and had to let them know about personal space.

    Remember that some students are going to have girlfriends/boyfriends and may be very sexual, whereas others may still play with barbies.

    On an academic note, I usually spend the first few weeks on a 5th grade level to see where they are at (for some reason they NEVER know any grammar!) and move to a higher level when they are ready. For example, I do a lot of reading aloud (especially playing the CD that accompanies my textbook) in the beginning of the year and move towards more independent reading. Except with my honors class- I usually expect them to do some silent reading from the beginning of the year. Sixth graders (middle-schoolers in general) have a tendency of looking at their book, but not actually reading it!
     
  15. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    Aug 22, 2007

    I couldn't agree more with ayotte04. These kids, above all, need to learn how to be independent learners, so teaching them to make goals and follow through and self-assess is so important. I learned that the hard way and this year I plan on putting procedures in place that force them to be aware of their own learning and behaviour and make them more accountable.
     

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