We are in the final stretch of school for my fifth grade students; there are fewer than six weeks left in the year. My students are starting to get anxious about transitioning to middle school. Since we are a small, private school, there are about five different schools my 13 students will be heading to in the fall. This makes the transition even more difficult for them because most of them won’t have even one friendly face in 6th grade. So, their apprehension is understandable.
In order to help open the door for discussion, I am reading to them a book of poems about middle school called Swimming Upstream by Kristine O’Connell George. As a graduate/survivor of middle school, I find these poems funny and nostalgic, but they present some very real concerns for my students: lockers, changing clothes for gym, new friends, picking classes, new teachers. Not only do we get to talk about poetry and literary devices, we also get to talk about middle school.
After I read today, I had them write down some questions they have about middle school for me, and they were so sweet. They wanted to know if it was going to be hard, if the teachers were going to be nice, if there were going to be bullies. I love this class so much, and I am truly going to miss them next year; I wish I could go with them all to middle school. Since I can’t do that, I will answer their questions and try to get them calm (and maybe even excited!) about moving on to 6th grade. As much as it melts my heart when they say that they want to come back to 5th grade next year (#proudteacher), I know they will eventually like 6th grade.