This summer, many students will be making a transition to either middle school or high school. For a young student, the transition between elementary and middle school can be incredibly challenging. The layout and overall foundation of middle schools differs drastically from that of elementary schools. High schools differ from middle schools as well, with students receiving more freedom in their class choices. Middle and high schools share more similarities with colleges, preparing children for their academic future. The bridge between these school levels serves as a benchmark for students’ independence. Middle schools also introduce students to new concepts like multi-class day-schedules. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it increasingly hard for new school students to adjust to an entirely new routine. Since most middle and high school classes will be offered remotely, many students are unsure of what to expect from their new schools. Although this is a challenging period for many incoming freshman and sixth graders, there are many different ways to help students adjust to their new school. 

Connecting new students with upperclassmen

A great way to help new students get acquainted with their new middle and high schools would be to pair them up with older students who are more familiar with the school. Students can exchange emails, phone numbers, and other methods of communication in order to connect virtually. By older students sharing their experiences with new students, incoming students can get a better idea of the school’s layout. Many younger students would feel a significant boost to their morale, knowing that they have the support of their older peers. 

Focusing on ice breakers and social activity

It’s important for instructors to not rush through the early class interaction stages. During these few classes, students learn more about their fellow peers and share interesting information about themselves. Social interaction should be a very high priority for new students experiencing their first days in an entirely new school remotely. Team building is crucial for a student in a new school as a feeling of community will help promote respect and excellence in the virtual class. Even though classes are remote, new classes should spend enough time having students familiarize themselves with their peers in order to create a safe learning environment. 

Implementing new class norms 

Many customs and norms that applied before the pandemic are no longer suitable for remote classes. By building a class community and maximizing class interaction, students can work collectively to create new rules and standards for their classes. By receiving feedback from students, teachers can adjust and make changes to their virtual classrooms in order to ensure future success. 

Resourceful online programs and applications

There are a great number of online programs that can help promote a friendly environment for new students. Programs like Mural allow for students to share ideas and collaborate with their teachers. There are also countless applications like Google Drive, where teachers can leave feedback on their students’ work. Many students would also benefit from casual classroom activities and experiences, like educational games. The website Kahoot allows for students to participate in group games and contests online. Many students will also be entirely unfamiliar with their actual school building; therefore, classroom video tours through YouTube and Zoom are a great way to get students familiarized with their new school.