Transition – moving from one place to another – whether this is physically or intellectually, can be hard. It is reaching that time of year where children can be heard talking about who will be their teacher next year. It is a time which seems to cause a lot of anxiety.
We have a stable staff and although which year group the staff are in may well change their faces will all be familiar to all of the children but the not knowing causes concern. We will tell the children soon and do lots of work with them to assure them that their new teacher will carry on where the old one left off. They know that some things will change but in general as we are a small school their classmates will stay the same. School rules will stay the same, expectations of behaviour will stay the same, the colour of their books for each subject will stay the same, even the day singing assembly is on will probably stay the same but still they are concerned.
Life in school is so much more than just teaching facts, knowledge, skills and their application, it is far more to do with relationships. Certainly it doesn’t take long before teachers are heard talking about “my children” in the staffroom when referring to their class. Teachers can be almost as possessive of the children as the children are of their teachers!
Our classrooms are almost identical in size and shape but how they are organised makes them all feel very different, each teacher putting their own spin on the room. Children will very soon get used to the physical changes in a room but knowing that their new teacher “gets” them takes longer – Miss Smith knows I hate sitting near the window and if I sit next to Billy I won’t work, Mr Brown might not know….
Children do not seem to appreciate that teachers talk, teachers will pass on information and that teachers really do care and want the best for them – their teacher does now, their teacher knows them. They have forgotten that a year ago their old teacher was the one who knew and their current teacher was a stranger.
For some the transition is bigger – the Y6s are moving on to a variety of secondary schools. These children who have coped with transitions within their primary school are suddenly faced with a bigger change, new teachers, new classes, a new route to school, a big building to get lost in. Tomorrow I start a few extra visits with those who we know are more worried than the rest, I also know that this time next year they will be wondering why they worried!
Within our school we all have to face a new transition or two. We are becoming an academy, which for the majority just means remembering what we write when asked the name of the school. A more major transition is that the head teacher who has been there for a very long time is leaving. We will be getting a new head teacher but not immediately. Like the children we are slightly apprehensive both for the interim arrangements and for when the new head starts – like the children we don’t know if they will “get” us, and that thought of what if they don’t like me? We know that it will be fine. We know the old head and new head will talk, they will pass on information. We are professionals doing our job but it does give us a small amount of insight into how the children are feeling.
At the end of this week we will tell the children who their new teachers will be. We will start working at the transition between this year and next, building those relationships so that anxieties are reduced and everyone can enjoy their holidays and come back secure in the knowledge that they can have a good year with a teacher who “gets” them.