How middle school teachers prepare students for WHS


Credit: John Phelan

High school is a big step up from middle school, and sometimes it can be difficult to learn how to manage the amount of work and how to adapt to a new environment. That’s why teachers at Wayland Middle School do their most to prepare students for their new school. For science teacher Jennifer Nichols, it’s important to teach future freshmen how to determine their learning strengths.

“We try to have students identify their learning styles,” Nichols said. “Can you get information through your ears? Through your eyes? Do you have to draw, or do you have to build?”

Middle school teachers also want to make sure their students are able to delegate their work. This means finding ways for their students to advocate for themselves more frequently in the classroom.

“We try to get [students] to collaborate so that [they] are working well in teams and know how to communicate and advocate,” Nichols said.

Collaboration is often a real opportunity to learn from peers, gain confidence and develop leadership skills. However, establishing a working routine is just as essential as learning to cooperate.

“[When you start high school], you have to have an organizational system so that you know where your notes and materials are, you know what’s due and you have a way to remember what your homework is,” Nichols said.

Another transition that students partake in is the change in class levels. At the middle school, math and science are the only classes which offer different levels. The biggest jumps are for the kids who are moving from a class that is the same level for everyone to an honors level class.

“For kids that go from middle level to middle level at the high school, I’ve heard that it’s not a big speed difference, [but] for people who go from middle level to honors level or honors to honors, they can experience a big jump,” Nichols said.

Another change in high school is students taking SAT tests or SAT Subject tests while they are in high school. Although most students don’t take the regular SAT test until they are juniors or seniors, many freshmen take the biology SAT Subject test in the spring.

“The high school is driven by the [biology] SAT and MCAS, and I have no tests that hold me accountable to get a certain amount of material [to students],” Nichols said.

The Class of 2022 will transition to the high school on the day of their orientation, which will take place a few days before the start of school. During orientation day, students will have a chance to tour the high school, as well as ask questions to upperclassmen peer mentors.