10 tips to ease into Middle School
Posted 04/27/2018 02:11PM

ISB Middle school students walking together on isb campus

By Nick Yates, ISB Communications

Middle School may be just down the corridor from Elementary School at the International School of Beijing (ISB), but it's a big move for students finishing grade 5 and getting ready to enter grade 6 after Summer Break. At the other end of the spectrum, the class of 2018 will be off to college at the end of summer. Often involving relocating to a new country, this is a change of scene involving its own excitement, nerves and practical issues.

With its learners of different ages facing these major transitions, ISB held a series of events over the past two weeks to provide guidance. Here are Middle School (MS) faculty members' tips for what grade 5 students can expect next year:

1.) Mentoring

Fred Schafer, MS Assistant Principal

One of the classes Middle School students go to is called Mentoring. It's an opportunity for you to work closely with your Homeroom teacher and one other teacher on making yourself best person you can be. One of the main things we work on is balance. We don't just want to fill your head up with knowledge, we want to focus on the rest of your body. We work hard to make sure you have a balanced life, that you're happy and healthy and safe. We focus on respect and integrity, we talk about being creative, being of service to others, which helps you develop empathy. The last thing we talk about is global-mindedness, understanding what goes on outside of the world of ISB.

2.) Enrichments

Eddie Jeng, MS Math/Science

One of the things that's really cool about Middle School is you get to pick some classes that you want to do. Elementary School students' day is decided for them. In Middle School, the year is divided into three trimesters. In each trimester, you get to pick two Enrichments – they might be sports, arts and crafts, academic activities. Some last all year, some only last one trimester. You can try lots of new things.

3.) Languages

Eddie Jeng, MS Math/Science

Another thing you get to pick is a language. One of your teachers as a Middle School student will be a Chinese, French or Spanish teacher. Some of you are really good at Chinese, maybe you speak it at home. Some of you are not so familiar with Chinese. This is a great opportunity to develop your language skills.

4.) Technology

Mona Davies, MS Math/Science

The school will issue you with laptops in October. You are responsible for following the guidelines provided by the school for their use. At home, you might have similar rules or different rules. In the Design Tech class, you'll also have technology. Having these privileges really allows you to develop a sense of responsibility.

5.) Dining

Eddie Jeng, MS Math/Science

Elementary School students don't swipe their cafeteria cards for lunch. In Middle School, students are in charge of their own cards. You can swipe your card and get a croissant, a muffin, or a healthy snack. You can put more money on your lunch cards, and the responsibility to charge, maintain and not lose your lunch cards is yours.

If you make a mess in the dining room, we want you to be in charge of cleaning up. You can pick wherever you want to sit in the dining room, but it is your responsibility to clean up.

6.) Support

Julie Cermak, MS Learning Support

In the transition to Middle School, you might find yourself needing a little extra help, with a class or settling into your community. The first thing you can do, during your Enrichment, is sign up for an independent study class if you know you need a little extra tutoring support. On Thursday, we also have Office Hour, where you can see a certain teacher for extra help.

7.) Performing arts

Fred Schafer, MS Assistant Principal

You also have an opportunity to choose a performing art – a band, the choir, orchestra. Those teachers will work with grade 5 students towards the end of this year, and you'll know by the time you enter grade 6 which branch of the arts you are going to be involved in. That happens during Enrichment and it will be a full-year Enrichment. (You still get to pick one other.)

The other cool thing is opportunities to be in performing arts after school. There's a drama production you can be part of in sixth grade. We hope there will be a jazz band next year too.

8.) Sports

Mona Davies, MS Math/Science

In PE, you'll get to do lots of sports. There's a whole range to choose from: Volleyball, track and field, cross country, badminton, rugby, table tennis... There are sports after-school activities (ASAs) every day too.

9.) Help with personal organization

Russell Long, MS Math/Science

One of the really cool things about Middle School is you get to go to different classrooms with different teachers. But those different teachers have different expectations of you – you can't leave your stuff in the classrooms any more, you have to use your locker. It's a challenge for sixth graders to keep your stuff organized. There are a lot of things to keep track of, from your lunch card, to your library card to your laptop. Your teachers will work with you to make sure you're organized.

10.) Greater choice and responsibility

Greg Hinton, MS Humanities

You are going to have a lot more freedom, but you will also need to show more responsibility. You get to make a lot of choices about what you eat and when; you get to choose from lots of different activities. You also get to take your computers home. You have a lot of freedom and choice.

Students have to figure out to how to balance all these different choices, remembering also about time for yourselves, time to hang out with your friends, time to spend with your family. And what do you need to make sure you are doing at night? Clue, the answer is not going on your computer... it's sleeping! We want Middle School students to keep everything in balance so that you're happy and successful and safe.

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