Supporting Transition: Student And Counselor Perspectives

Dr. Rhoden (MS Counselor) and Erin (Grade 9)  collaborated to determine how best to support students as they transition.  This can be to a new grade, building, school and/or country. While all of us has transitioned at some point in our lives, we may not have realized how important understanding the stages of transition can have on us as we move through them.  Throughout this article, we hope to share some information about the transition process and best practices to deal with transition itself. For the parents reading this article we hope to give you tips and suggestions so you can best support your child as they transition into their new adventure.  For the student transitioning who is reading this article we hope to give you insight to what you are feeling and ways to cope. To the student who is not transitioning but have students transitioning around them we hope you can use the information in this article to understand what those students are going through and ways to help their transition be sooth as you welcome them into our wonderful home of KIS.  All stakeholders are important in building a community of care. It is crucial for students transitioning into a new department to feel welcomed and supported.

When going through transition we go through phases that are usually:

R= Reconciliation- take time to talk out your feelings with a trusted person

A= Affirmation- take time to thank those around you that have supported you

F= Farewell- take time to create memories or leave a note to those you may not see in the near future

T= Think destination- take some time to think and research your new location; while it can not take the place of your current location it may bring new opportunities, excitement and challenges that can help you grow and develop into the person you was destined to be.

To help you better build your R.A.F.T. we decided to view the top four areas that are often discussed in the transition process through the lens of both a student and faculty member…

Excitement

Student Faculty
When asked the question, “What is most exciting about the transition into high school,” many 8th graders and current 9th graders responded with thrill regarding the variety of selections for activities, and the events taking place with much enthusiasm. KIS does an amazing job providing high school students a wide variety of activities to choose from, including clubs, after school activities, elective courses, Pep Rallies, and community service works. I, as a very active student, enjoy participating in our school’s theatrical activities, including productions, classes, clubs, and even workshops that expand to foreign areas. With this provision, students are able to experience various possibilities and pursue their passions in order to determine future pathways. It is very important to highlight the things that makes you happy about your new adventure, such as making new friends, having new experiences, possibly being closer to other friends/family members, giving you different travel opportunities and/or rebuilding/expanding on your knowledge. While transition can be hard, focusing on the positive of the transition can help bring it into fruition.  After all “fake it until you make it” has some truth to it. Another way to build your excitement is to research your new location, whether its crossing over from one building to the other or the atlantic ocean. Research clubs supports and other school sponsored events. Research opportunities available in your new neighborhood. All of this will help to increase your excitement on your new location.  Be open to try something outside of your comfort zone, after all you won’t know you like it until you try it. Not to mention joining activities, inside and outside of the school will give you opportunities to build friendships.

Nervousness

Student Faculty
High school certainly is a challenging time, necessary for maximum effort and strength. Beginning the second semester of 8th grade, I, too, exponentially felt timid of transitioning into high school. It is normal, and even inevitable, for 8th grade students to be exasperated of anxiousness. However, I’m here to say that it will turn out great. When asked, current 9th graders expressed their previous stressors regarding the transition prior to the beginning of the school year, however, concluded that they realized that it didn’t have to be overly pressuring after all. Transitioning students, note this: upperclassmen are one of the most liberal and kind hearted people to hang out with, satisfying grades can be achieved with effort, teachers will become your best friend, and school spirit will enhance your daily school life. There will be a moment of stumbling as you struggle to accustom to an augmented workload and high expectations. However, you will get through it, and if you are having trouble as you make your way through, there are always people around you — parents, teachers, upperclassmen, or whoever who has already experienced this transition — who will be willing to help you. It is nature to feel nervous for the unknown.  But the emotion of ‘nervousness’ can also help to be a driving force to help you.  It can be a tool for you to inquire about what’s to come and how you can best adapt to your new environment.  Ask questions both of the students around you (peers), upperclassmen, parents, counselors & teachers. While they may not always have a complete answer for you, they can give you guidance as to where to start and who to connect with to locate the needed information.  Just remember that at every turn of your new adventure there will be a few “bumps”; this is normal and you WILL get over them. The likelihood that others in your situation is just as nervous (if not more) as you and they do not have all the answers. You may consider building small information groups to both help you seek information and discuss what you are going through; similar to a support group.  You will learn that leaning on others in this time can help you realize that yo are not in it alone and help to decrease any anxiety you may be suffering from.

Confidence

Student Faculty
As students, we were confident about our knowledge of the people, the structures of the buildings, of the teachers, and of the environment we were going to be enrolled into. Physically, it was only a transition from one district to another, and therefore, wasn’t difficult finding our classes and making friends. You might wonder how new students, for instance, would have coped with an inevitable lack of knowledge regarding the school. This, however, is resolved by the school earlier. They provide new student orientations, and let them know where their classes are, who the teachers are, and who their friends are. This gives them a heads up and therefore creates a more welcoming environment. With the knowledge, students are able to enroll into high school without having to worry about being in a new environment. There is a time tried phrase “Fake it until you make it” that reminds us that we are not expected to be fully confident in everything that we do with all of the answers but we can act like we do until we actually do poses the answers and confidence we seek.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, confidence is “the quality or state of being certain”.   Certainty comes with experience and exposure.  This is one of the main reasons why it is important to try things that you are not familiar with it.  Accept defeat the first time (if it comes) and be willing to try again knowing that with practice, consistency and determination things will get better.  How does this pertain to a new student, you ask? It may include you introducing yourself to a small group, signing up for a club, activity or extracurricular event that you previously would not have considered.  Being involved with the ins and outs of the schools help you feel a better sense of belonging, it increases confidence in yourself and knowledge of your new surrounding; not to mention it is a great way to build new friendships.

Preparation

Student Faculty
Speaking as one of the many who have already experienced the transition to high school, the transition, from the perspective of an 8th grader, is a towering obstacle. For the purpose of content environments and swifter adaptations, I believe that adept support and assistance from teachers and upperclassmen will not only be convenient, but also very advantageous to all high school students. Parents and teachers, prior to the upcoming transition, note that it is crucial for all students to be supported with guidance. My first semester was a definite roller coaster of chaos in feelings, grades, friendships, activities, and most importantly, stamina. Having to keep up with the constantly changing environments and responsibilities, my stamina was lacking, even without participating in any after-school activities. The transition is a huge step, and with everything altering, students will most necessarily need the cheers and the advices from you as an adult. Upperclassmen, note that KIS is not only supposed to be your community, but their community also. What are YOU doing to get yourself ready for your new adventure? In a word…research!

Research can come from talking with someone who recently went through the same move, a website, book, etc.  Research is all around you, you just have to seek it out. For instance, if your transition is from the MS to the HS ask a 9th grader for tips or things they wished they knew 1 year earlier.  Ask the College Counselor or HS LINK leaders questions about HS when you are given the open sessions. If you are transitioning to a different country research information about that country. What are they known for (food, entertainment, adventures, etc.)? What are some popular things people your age are involved in (hiking, arcades, shopping, etc.)? What are the tourist attractions (museums, parks, restaurants, etc.).  Once you have a better understanding of your new location it seems less ‘scary’ and helps to build excitement for your move.


Article and chart created by Dr. Elethia Rhoden, LPC, NCC, and Erin Eunhoo, grade nine student. Thank you so much! For a downloadable pdf of the above, here you go!

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