Writing Prompts to Help Ease Middle School Transition
Read the article for the full activity, but here is a snapshot. I see potentially positive results using this intervention in high school as well, as freshman often go through some of the same feelings of angst and worry.
"Middle school is an especially difficult time for many students because in addition to developmental and physical changes, they move from a single teacher to multiple teachers, often in a new location. “The process of alienation and disengagement from school often takes root at the beginning of middle school,” Borman says. The study’s intervention was designed to ease that transition by reminding kids that their fears are common and by fostering a sense of belonging with peers and teachers.
The proposed solution is simple: New middle school students in the study completed two 15-minute writing exercises at the beginning of the year that asked them to reflect on statements like these from prior students: “Almost all 7th graders said they had worried a lot about taking middle school tests at the beginning of 6th grade, but almost all 7th graders say that they now worry much less about taking tests,” and “Almost all 7th graders said they had worried at first that they did not ‘fit in’ or ‘belong’ at the beginning of 6th grade, but almost all 7th graders say that they now know that they ‘fit in’ and ‘belong.’
...Students who participated in the intervention exhibited a shift in attitude with far-reaching consequences. Study participants “reported trust in their teachers, that they liked school, were not as nervous about big tests, and that, ultimately, felt like they fit in. These more positive attitudes about school help students worry less, which helps them devote more cognitive and psychological resources to doing well in school,” Borman told Time. The students also had fewer absences and fewer disciplinary problems. “Over time, these shifts in student beliefs and behaviors improve academic performance, which then reinforce students’ positive beliefs,” Borman says.”