“Next year will mark my 10th anniversary in the Avenor College community, an international bilingual school located near Băneasa Forest, where we interact with students from three key stages: Primary, Middle School and High School. What at the beginning was a big challenge for me, has turned into an efficient transitional educational programme from Primary to Middle School that is improving every year”. Georgiana Socoliu – Middle School Coordinator at Avenor College.
HOW IT STARTED
I am a history teacher and Middle School Coordinator, and in my first year at Avenor College I accepted the challenge to teach in the 4th grade. My teaching experience until that moment was exclusively in Middle School and High School and that is why I thought it would be difficult to teach for the students in the Primary.
With the help of my fellow teachers, I was able to get to know the students, interact with them, and have a great time. Thus, we started, practically, to work on a transition programme from Primary to Middle School, which we continue to try to improve from year to year.
The first step was to have a transition team with representatives from both key stages and as topics of analysis we focused on: similarities, routine, changes, schedule, differences, homeworks, concerns parents-students, the well-being of students.
We were really helped by our colleagues who were able to share their experience as parents, having children enrolled in Avenor, and then we were able to approach the transition with their feedback in mind but also taking into consideration the opinion of other parents in the community who were consulted.
Another element that is the basis of the transition programme every year is the feedback questionnaires that students fill in in the 5th grade, as well as the feedback they give to the teachers after the first semester. These represent great tools that help us evaluate and improve the whole process.
THE ELEMENTS OF THE TRANSITION PROCESS
The transition team has been setting a timeline since August, when we are preparing for the new school year, a calendar that specifies the activities and events that take place throughout the year, so that the transition between the two cycles is as organic as possible. Here are some examples:
- meetings with the parents of the 4th grade students for the presentation of the Middle School educational offer, a meeting attended by all the leaders of the school departments and the management team;
- meetings between 4th grade teachers, the class counselor, who knows the students very well and can provide information about each of them (academic progress, challenges he / she has encountered, emotional reactions, interaction with colleagues, parent-school collaboration ) and future form tutors.
Another element that ensures the transition of students is the equivalence of grades during the 4th grade. In this way, my colleagues from the Primary cycle ensure that in the 5th grade the students will already be familiar with the grading system in the Middle School.
Moreover, starting with the second semester, 4th grade students have the opportunity to participate in the classes of their Middle School classmates, by rotation or if the classes are online, they can all participate at the same time, the main goal being to get to know their classmates, from 5-8, but also to observe the atmosphere and the Middle School teachers way of working.
Also during this period, fellow teachers of mathematics, Romanian, history, geography, organise demonstrative classes with 4th grade students, an excellent opportunity to get to know each other and interact.
As part of the transition process was the last year’s activity of 4th graders who wrote individual letters entitled What Should Future Teachers Know About Me? in which everyone presented themselves – passions, skills, competitions he/she participated in, but which also included expectations from future Middle School teachers. These letters were presented by each student at the graduation ceremony of the fourth grade to which the parents were invited, as well as the teachers from the Primary and Middle School.
One of the most impactful activities organised in the process of transition is the meeting between the students from the two key stages. In these meetings, called Assembly, students in grades 5-8 recount their own experiences, the challenges they went through, how they adapted to the new routine, and how they prepare for exams, competitions, and what co-curricular activities they engage in over the years.
At Avenor, the transition process between key stages focuses on the student and his well-being, the goal being to eliminate tensions and fear of the unknown. We want the school performance of our students not to be influenced by the pressure of change and the continuous efforts of the educational team aim at a transition made holistically and efficiently.