Principal - May/June 2021 - 44

Transitions

Moving Through the Middle
Supporting successful transitions into and out of the middle grades
BY JESSICA CABEEN

and

KEVIN ARMSTRONG

M

iddle school is one
setting that can still evoke
powerful emotions, even
among adults. Getting the
transitions to middle school right and
moving on to high school asks that all
stakeholders feel safe, supported, and
engaged in the process. Only then will
the middle years hold more positive
memories than fears.
Making the leap to middle school
from elementary school can be
an anxious time for students and
parents alike-and that's especially
true this year, when both are dealing
with the unfamiliar demands that the
pandemic's restrictions have brought.
In this article, the authors discuss
the strategies they have used to help

*

44

M A Y / J U N E 2 0 2 1 * N A E S P. O R G

smooth the transition from elementary to middle school
and beyond.

From Elementary to Middle School
Cabeen: Moving students toward greater freedom.
During my first year at Ellis Middle School, I was walking
through a feeder school and noticed its lunch room practices. Students came in and sat down by their teachers, in
assigned seats. I began to think about how students would
transition to moving into the lunchroom at the middle school,
where they had free choice to sit where they wanted.
Working with our PBIS team, we created a " gradual
release " system for lunch seating the next year. Students
sat with their classes during the first week, then they were
gradually allowed to sit wherever they wanted. This allowed
some familiarity from elementary school while transitioning
students to middle-level seating arrangements.
As you think about next year-especially with COVID
guidelines still in place-what routines and rituals will be
dramatically different for students between elementary and
middle grades, and what structures can you put into place
to support the transition?


http://www.NAESP.ORG

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