Transitioning Socially

Area of Concern: Transitioning Socially
By: Brandi Miller
  • Many elementary and middle school students who are moving up to the next phase of their education worry that the older students (7th and 8th graders; sophomores-seniors) will tease them and bully them simply because they are new to middle school or high school. A lot of this fear stems from scenes in tv shows and movies that depict and emphasize and often exaggerate such bullying. While film attempts to use its medium to support students who might have this fear, the scenes actually can play up students’ fears and give fuel to their anxiety associated with transitioning to a new phase of schooling.

    • “Eccles and Wigfield (1997) also noted that during early adolescence the importance of peer-related activities, peer acceptance, and physical appearance increases. Cliques become especially prominent, and students engage in gossip, teasing, and bullying to maintain social status. The importance of social acceptance also relates to an increase in peer conformity. Perhaps most distressing is the decline in many students' intrinsic motivation and academic self-concept, interest in school, and grades” (Cauley & Jovanovich).

  • Many students worry about fitting in, being in the correct group, finding friends, and eventually dating.

    • “Social concerns deal with peer and teacher relationships, especially making new friends and getting along with teachers. With regard to friends, students worry about not seeing friends from elementary school (Elias 2001), knowing how to make new friends (Diemert; Elias), not being in the "in group," and dating (Elias)” (Cauley & Jovanovich).

    • Some concerns also center around safety issues, including having possessions stolen, being bothered by older students, and peer pressure to drink, use drugs, and/or smoke (Elias 2001).

  • It is a fault found in most transition programs that they do not focus on the social aspect of students moving to middle or high school

  • "School Within a School" or Ninth Grade Academy
    • The academies or centers provide much- needed support and academic attention at a critical time when many students fall between the cracks.
  • Freshmen-only First Day of School
    • freshmen have the school to themselves on the first day. They meet in the auditorium for an assembly where the faculty, student body president, and administration are presented. They are introduced to the rules, rituals, and values of the school. Welcome banners escort students to their homerooms where teachers review the handbook, discuss expectations, and help with lockers. Freshmen follow their schedule and meet their teachers. At lunch, a cookout allows students to socialize with each other and with their teachers (Cauley, Kathleen, and Donna Jovanovich, 2007).
  • “The Transition Project is one of the earliest efforts in this area... It used a restructured homeroom course to ensure greater teacher support and less student anonymity after the high school transition and partially reorganized other aspects of the school environment to facilitate a stable peer support system.” (Benner 2011).




  • Benner, A. D. (2011). The transition to high school: Current knowledge, future directions. Educational psychology review, 23(3), 299-328.
  • Cauley, Kathleen, and Donna Jovanovich. "Developing an Effective Transition Program for Students Entering Middle School or High School." RedOrbit.,14 Feb. 2007. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.

  • Diemert, A. E. 1992. A needs assessment of fifth grade students in a middle school. Curry School of Education, University of Virginia. (ERIC) Document No. ED 362332.

    Elias, M. I. 2001. Easing transitions with social-emotional learning. Principal Leadership 1 (7): 20-25.
  • Eccles, J. S., and A. Wigfield. 1997. Young adolescent development. In What current research says to the middle level practitioner, ed. I. L. Irvin, 15-29. Columbus, OH: National Middle School Association.


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