Transition to High School – Part 1 – Changes at school and at home


Here is a presentation we held at St. Clements Catholic School for students and parents discussing the transition to high school. For a transcript please read here

I guess I will begin, I’ve never used one of these so I’m not too sure how that’s going to, it’s going to take a little bit to get used to yes.

Well, thank you for coming out, it’s a large crowd it’s in the numbers and it’s not too surprising when you’re talking about high school around the corner. The transition to high school for students but it may not be as obvious jumping up and down enthusiastically, it’s something that’s on their mind whereas I know parents for sure, it’s on their mind. And what I though was brilliant when I had the, when we had the additional conversation about the topic of you know getting ready and transitioning into high school. The topics you got always to do hope you were in high school, I thought it was brilliant primarily because this, we hear the word we obviously your son or daughter and or daughter at some point, they are going to make the transition into high school.

There’s going to be great big changes for that, but the change is also you know, household why, they say it is a family change obviously as parents you can involve in their education, very much so, certainly through the early years and probably continue so, and probably in your mind continue to plan on giving them proper education for the foreseeable future. And I know many people had, they have older children who have made the transition and it’s for you, you probably already been through the experience, but many of you I’m sure coming to this you probably it’s you’re your childhood you go through and so what we’re going to do this evening is I’m going to talk to you about some of these changes.

And maybe about the kind of change you were expecting when you came in terms of talking about it and some of these underlying themes that I’d study spot to do the quick background we do academic coaching, it’s one on one with primarily high school some middle school and then high school students and university students are in scope on. My theory being that when students underachieve at school very rarely is because the content is too hard. The reason those students underachieve isn’t a lousy students, they lack skills or that their skills aren’t developing at the same pace, and school is changing.

And there is under achievement, there is disconnect between the results they get and what they are capable of causes frustration to the students and obviously in the household as well. And so it’s, anytime I have these kinds of talks about school and skill development and so it’s important that it’s family wide, because it’s a conversation that the teachers have with the students, but then you’re also going to be having with your sons or daughters. So start off with changes at school, and I will do it too as well you tell them like a power and many other, most of the high schools in the city are of this kind. They are huge, they are big right, and this is not a dramatic change, it seems like the ceilings are higher and they will be likely the [indiscernible] [00:02:44] are taller right, if they weren’t following the classes, but the bigger issue is going to come for you is they kind of lost and no one is watching out for you. In school like this, everybody knows each other, you’ve been here for a long time, teachers know who you are, the principal knows who you are, you’ve known these kids around for a long period of time.

There’s someone who is kind keeping an eye out for you, not a lot of happens that everybody knows in these smaller schools and this idea of being a big fish in a little pond, any students know the expression, big fish little pond. Yes, maybe no, the idea when you are a small group and if you are the best of the best in a small group that’s fantastic when you are in a small pond, but when you get to the big pond, the big ocean, there’s a lot of depth. And so your first experience with an increasing competition is to be much more difficult to be one of the best. This can be much more difficult to keep pace right, to keep up and so this transition, this kind of stress I think that someone had mentioned as well is going to be part of it, is that you are little bit out of place, little bit out of the way that way.

Independent schedule, that was mentioned as well, how your day your structure is going to be different, you’ll have different teachers for different courses, and what is also different is that you’ll have different classes, you’ll have your own schedule that could be rather unique, and you’re not going to have the same group of kids in each of your classes. And with that comes some challenges, you know, you have to kind of organize yourself, you have this independent kind of schedule that you have to manage and follow along with. Not only that, you have different teachers for each course, which is going to be different, different teachers, different ways at which they, different styles and expectations, some students, some teachers will use their text book religiously, some will give you hand notes every week, piles of hand notes. Some will write stuff on the board and expect you to kind of copy it off the board, some will just talk and a whole period will go by, and you say wow, you didn’t even write any notes of any sort.

You have this one just talks about stories, doesn’t give you any point, other ones will stand there very monotonous and talk to you like this and you’ll go through, you’ll have different styles, and so you’ll soon figure out that how I need to be organized and managed myself in this class is a little bit different than I have to be managing myself in that class. And so once again your experience is now being different, it’s now individualized; it’s now upon yourself to take control of those things. And I think control will touch on it, you need to be organized, and so the biggest difficulty students have, the students will be working on a regular basis that are under-achieving high school, the primary reason, disorganized, right.

And so you’ll need to work hard to become organized, you’ll have to seek help when it comes to organization. And it will be the biggest challenge you have to transition. And this one is here, it’s for everybody actually, parents as well, teachers would want to back off, it’s part of becoming independent, becoming an independent learner, you know, we hear most is from parents. You know, I just don’t know what’s going on at school. I used to know all the time, the teachers used to send home notes and agenda for me. I used to be able to call them on the phone, they would tell me what’s going on and things were great. I just don’t know what’s going on, I’m lost.

It’s supposed to be that way right to a certain degree, and their role has changed and your role as parents is going to change as well, it’s not about you and the teacher working together to make sure my son kind of gets through school, it’s now more and more your son or daughters opportunity to chance such time to make sure they get through school. There’s a role for you to play, but it’s not going to be that, knowing all that kind of cotton touch. The other area they are going to back off on is how guided the teachers are for you as a student. The student will assign homework to you sometimes right, teacher gives the homework, you better get it done because, you know, when you are going to go into school tomorrow morning the teacher is going to check it. High school they might not, instead that people thinking yes, I don’t have to do homework, I’ll get that class in working with students, do you think, did you get that done? No she never checks it, no they don’t even look at it, as if that equates not important.

All that equated was that, she is not going to take the time to do that, she’s got other things to do. It’s your responsibility to have done it, that handholding, making sure you do each and every step along the way is slowly going to dissipate. And it’s giving more and more your responsibility of students to take on that, you are responsible for learning, I use inspection a lot. When you are younger grades the teacher is responsible for teaching your son or daughter right. By the time you get to university the student in the university no one is going to know whether you go to class or not or who is who or what you are doing, your doing work or not doing work or whatever. You are entirely responsible form a learning process, high school is going to be the transition from one to the other. But the teachers are slowly being less and less responsible for your ultimate academic outcome, and you as a student are becoming more and more responsible for that academic outcome.

It’s a subtle change, you’ll walk through the door and that your role changes overnight, but it does start to change, for those students who don’t adapt change to change well struggle. And those who can see it coming you know, it would be just fine. This leads you to the next, changes at home. How to support this change? What you have to follow at home is different; you’re going to have more homework, every night. Now once again, that might not mean it’s been assigned every night, but you have to start to build into your expectation that you’ll be doing work every night. Certainly in the primary years as expected, you are expected to reach to your child as much as possible, the projects, the projects are clearly for me, there’s no way, there isn’t any way that as an expectation my son, my daughters are going to build this car they can roll down a ramp in front of it, it’s just there’s going to be some friends involved and it’s built that way. They want you to be involved; there are lots of studies that show that friends are involved that is very important.

And so as parents we get used to helping, we make it part of what we do, and we make it part of our routine, it’s going to change. The student needs to become more and more independent in the work that takes place when he comes home. And so how can parents help, what is the way, what are the ways that you can help? Focusing on process and not the content, and for students their idea is that I’m not emphasizing this to both groups because you want to understand the word parents role is going to be going forward and I can talk about parents as to why you should focus this way.

One thing is the content is getting hard, many times they can point out already separated out, we’ll give the maths and science as you go to dad, the English isn’t good then you go to your mom, you’ve already started to build this up because the content is moving beyond you, I’m not saying you couldn’t handle, you have to go back, I’m saying just in such a long time since you’ve been there and it really takes some time. What I’m saying is that the content may have moved beyond you. The other problem is that in trying your efforts to show them how to do it, it might be a different message to what you are getting in the classroom, and it can provide confusion. And if we want students to become independent, your experiences in the classroom with the teachers and that’s where you need to take instruction from, to come home and get instruction that is kind of slightly different or completely different from mom and dad is not useful.

The second thing is this undermines the learning process, and what I mean by this is this, and maybe you’ve experienced this in your house, homework comes home, son is there for math struggling or I don’t understand this, dad I don’t get it, you know, you think okay I’ll help, so you take his book you are seeing factoring, oh factor, I remember factor, alright okay I got it, okay I got so let me see what you got here, so you take the text book from your son as he sits there and he performs that one, you take the textbook and you start reading the chapter, okay first what you got, we got BODMAS you got to make sure you have the brackets first, you got to find the common denominator I think as I take this out, it’s probably okay I kind of remember that, now it’s united so I do a couple of questions, I do a question, I do another question, I check the back of the book, I said the first right, the second is wrong. Wrong so you quickly pulled back and go back and you try to think yourself as to why that was wrong then you say do you got something else notes from class or something. And he says, oh yeah, I got notes, and he gives it to you, and you looked through the notes and you flip through it and you see alright I can see that done here I come back into another question I go the back of the book, we got it alright I’m ready.

I can now teach this right, so your proud as your son or daughter is long tuned up and the bottom line is, is that the valuable part of that experience was what you just did. You learned that whole concept, taught it to yourself, that’s what they should have done. You have actually taken way an experience for them that were extremely valuable. Giving them an answer is of no use right, the experience of finding the answer, in fact the experience of not knowing the answer, is very valuable. The experience of struggling to come out with an answer is very valuable. When we do academic coaching, we don’t do tutoring and I’ll make some distinctions to it later, but that is, one of the values of coaching is that you, what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to show them the process to finding the answer. Show them how to do what you don’t know so you can teach yourself.

Giving them answers is undermining what the most valuable part of that is. And the other thing that can happen is you can create dependency, I know that if go to dad or I go to mom and I ask a lot of times, this may take a long time, but if I ask enough they will tell me the answer. And they will make it easy, oh it makes sense when my mom does it, oh yeah, yeah, I was just talking about mom yeah I get that alright. And what happens when they went up against the next road block? I could battle or I could ask, alright. It’s one of the traps that families fall into as tutoring. You see tutoring is very valuable to fill gaps, no when you teach is at home have them sit aside your son or daughter right, except that it’s really useful when the full focus is on content and not process, it’s helpful for that test. You took another test two weeks later and two weeks after that and every year of the next nine years, right. You can’t depend on someone else to walk you through that process.

It’s an extremely valuable process for them to learn how to solve problems in life and I get to seeing students in high school and I get them in grade 10 or 11, 12 primarily. We have students who have gotten that far with that kind of environment and it’s because they now are trying to be independent, and they lack skills, they lack confidence, they don’t know the process. And the parents, I mean does all come from a good place, these are not malicious people trying to wreck the academic lives of their son or daughter, in fact they are doing the opposite, right. They are doing it from a good place, they want to be helpful right, and this is what they are doing in terms of being helpful.

I want to talk some more about, more we can….


What people are saying about us

  • I would like to thank our coach and your organization for giving my son a great opportunity to improve. He is much more responsible now and understands the importance of working hard as well as how to work and organize himself.

    Chieko(mother of grade 10 student)
  • Thanks for your good work with our son – I believe we are starting to see some positive changes and improvements. He seems to have a positive attitude overall and he is getting at his work on his own initiative which is good to see.

    David(father of grade 12 student)
  • Our daughter feels much more confident and on top of her work and comments often about how strong her marks have become. She feels that her sessions with you have been a big reason for the turn around.

    Sharon(mother of grade 8 student)
  • Thank you very much for providing such a very helpful facility for my daughter. She has benefited so much from the program, not only for her present situation but I think for life. Your coaches were excellent and they gave her the motivation, guidance, self-confidence and self-esteem that she lacked.

    Sandora(mother of grade 12 student)
  • Our coach works hard with our son in helping him approach his academic studies with more maturity, effectiveness and independence. Our son has responded well to his mentors coaching and guidance.

    Barbara(mother of grade 11 student)