The Next Step

The Next Step

Thursday, 9 November 2017  | Ben - Assistant Primary Coordinator & Senior Primary Coordinator
Last week, our Kinder coordinator Wendy wrote about transition between the Kinder and the Primary School. While this is happening at the beginning of a student’s schooling journey, so too are preparations being made at the midway point. Throughout Term 4, Senior Primary teachers and Middle School staff are taking steps to assist the Year 6 students in their transition into the Middle School in 2018. Transitioning to a new section of a students’ schooling journey is seen by many as a pivotal time in a student’s life. Our aim is to ensure that each student is ready for Middle School - not just academically, but also socially and emotionally, and so we dedicate a whole term of the Core Studies curriculum to the unit 'The Next Step'.

This unit aims to reinforce the conviction that each student is an intentionally created, special, unique and valued child of God. As the students embark on ‘the next step’ of their schooling journey they should carry this understanding with them, and use it to give them strength, self-belief and inspiration as they tackle the new challenges of schooling that lie before them. 

Earlier this term, the Year 6 students had the opportunity to attend the Hard Rock Climbing Centre in Nunawading. Not only is this a fun day for the students but also one where many new challenges are faced head on and fears are conquered. It provides a visual representation for students and a perfect analogy of transitioning up into a new section of the school. We had a great, fun time together, and then had the opportunity to unpack and discuss with the students how this activity serves as more than just a fun day away from school.

The question was asked: “How does our Rock Climbing excursion represent the move towards the Middle School?” While the obvious answers of climbing up a wall being like climbing up the hill at MECS were contributed early, some much deeper thoughts came about which generated excellent further discussion. Students recognized that school for them in a new and somewhat unfamiliar environment could be a challenge, as could the workload and homework expectations. Others felt that like looking at a huge rock-climbing wall, looking up towards the Middle School from where they sit now seems impossible. However, one final thought encapsulated beautifully the benefits of transitioning to a new section of a school that you are already in: as belaying and a harness help climbers tackle a wall, so too do our teachers to make sure that our trip up the ‘wall’ is as smooth as it can be.

There are a number of things that we put in place to assist the students in their transition. Intentional communication and handover happens between the primary and secondary teachers as well as Ed Support staff well before the end of Year 6. During Term 4, Olivia Dyer (our new Primary to Secondary transition coordinator) will come down and hold a number of circle times with the students, allowing them the opportunity to speak about their concerns for next year as well as highlight the things that they are looking forward to. Primary teachers have already filled out transition documents that highlights students’ strengths and weaknesses and what helps each student to learn at their absolute best, and in the January workbreak, this is followed up with a meeting with all Middle School staff to ensure that the handover is thorough and complete. This process allows the teachers in the Middle School to know what we as Senior Primary teachers have learnt about each student so that this knowledge can be built on over coming years.

Part of the unit also includes a project, where students get to look at where they have come from as well as where they are going. Throughout Biblical times, God uses people’s stories to illustrate to us what it means to be on a journey – a journey of life and of faith. Through the stories in the Bible we learn about relying on God, the importance of being in community and the importance of trusting in God. While the community of Year 6 students at MECS is strong, we have new students starting their MECS journey in Year 7 as well: 22 new students will be welcomed with open arms into the Middle School next year, all with their own journey to share.

The final part of our program looks at the writing of each student’s graduation speech; the final frontier of the Primary School journey. We remind our Year 6s of all the students who have given a graduation speech at MECS with butterflies in their stomachs, but have done it with aplomb and survived the process.

Our unit culminates with the Graduation event, which is a night of celebration and formal recognition of the completion of their time in the Primary School. This night is a chance for students to dress up and share the highlights of their Primary School journey through their graduation speech. It also provides the chance for us as a school community to wish them well as them embark on the next chapter of their schooling journey.

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