Middle School to High School Transition-Part 2

In part one of this series Middle School to High School Transition we looked at the tougher academic standards that students face in high school.  We discussed why students may not do as well grade-wise in high school as they did in middle school.  In this part, we will talk about the increased competition that takes place in high school.

In many ways, high school is a big leap academic wise from middle school.  There is research even that indicates when we had the traditional Junior High concept, that many of us experienced, the leap from Junior High to High School was much less of a shock to students.  When we went to the middle school concept, it served the sixth graders well because it got them out of the elementary, which elementary teachers in general love, but it didn’t do much for the upper end of the grade level, particularly eighth grade.   Still, having said that, high schools have multiple middle schools that feed into them so it makes sense that there is much more competition for grades because now we have multiple groups of able students that are in one building.  The increased competition can be discouraging for students if they aren’t familiar with how to overcome disappointment.  Everyone has challenges in life, but there are fewer of them, so it seems, in middle school for most students.  In the talks that I do for middle school students, I talk with them about how to expect challenges in life and help them understand how to overcome them.  I teach them not to be afraid of failure, to not be fearful of making a mistake and to look for the solution, instead of the disappointment in all mistakes and shortfalls that we all experience from time to time.

By teaching kids how to push through disappointments, we teach them perseverance and give them an uncommon desire to succeed.  I like to tell them, “If you are determined and you have an uncommon desire to succeed, you will succeed, but not without some challenges along the way.  Oftentimes, I feel that middle school is much easier for students and when they get to high school, they are overwhelmed at times because they haven’t faced a challenge that they had to really work through.  They can still do the work at the level they did in middle school, but not without some help in being determined to overcome those obstacles.  They will always be there and if we can teach them to see these as opportunities for creative solutions, we give them lifelong skills.