Transferring to a new school? This is what children, parents, teachers should keep in mind

This is how you switch schools | (Pic: EdexLive)
This is how you switch schools | (Pic: EdexLive)

School, the temple of education where students come to obtain knowledge so that they can enlighten their future with joy and happiness. They satisfy their souls with bonds of love that they form with their teachers, friends, staff, gardeners and caretakers. But if we think deeply, do they maintain the same enthusiastic attitude when they shift to a new school? The answer to this question remains uncertain. 

The initial year of school can be a difficult time for students. Because children who are extroverts can easily converse after a certain time or so. But what about the children who are introverts? They might not make good friends in their school. But are the constraints of a student shifting to a new school only confined to the bond of friendship and the quality of socialising? 

The answer is definitely no. Besides this, students will also have to face a variety of challenges. Adopting a completely new regime is very tough, especially if the previous school was not very strict with respect to its rules and regulations. Stiff competition with students who are unknown to us is very stressful to deal with. Evidence suggests that stress may lead to low self-esteem and problems in adjustment for younger students, the biggest worries about beginning secondary school include making friends, finding their way around a new environment and having to establish multiple teacher-student relationships.

Moreover, students expect their new school to be admirable, appreciable and amenable. But the dilemma of cultivating these qualities not only depends upon the facilities provided by the school but also on the understanding and encouragment of the teachers. 

One might feel that going to a new school is somewhat challenging and unpredictable. But on a positive note, students are exposed to the harsh reality of the world; they get to understand the reactive nature of different students from where they get to learn new morals and lessons.

How does one combat these challenges to develop mental strength

Value alignment 
Mental strength is the ability to control your mind instead of being controlled by it. It is a crucial aspect of development. In adolescence, people develop their moral self-concept based on their daily life experiences, where they must make decisions and regulate their behaviours while tackling new challenges and social influences. 

If students’ goals are not asymmetrical with their values or their sense of self, they are more likely to procrastinate. Value congruence is the extent to which a student’s behaviour is consistent with the stated value. It would add value to their personal growth and foster creativity. Not being creative would lead to value incongruence. 

A growth mindset
Transferring can be a threat or challenge for the students depending upon their mindset. Students with a growth mindset are more likely to develop healthy coping strategies and focus on learning goals. This is because if students believe they have a set amount of ability or intelligence, new situations can be stressful because of the uncertainty to be able to meet the new demands. If they believe in improving their qualities, they can overcome fear.

Understanding empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It helps in building strong relationships and fostering emotional connections with others. In today’s fast-paced world, where people are often preoccupied with their own problems, it’s essential to develop empathy to connect with others on an emotional level. It allows us to understand the emotional experiences of others and respond appropriately. 

There are three types of empathy: cognitive empathy, emotional empathy and compassionate empathy. Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand someone’s perspective without feeling their emotions. Emotional empathy is the ability to feel what someone else is feeling. Compassionate empathy is the ability to feel what someone else is feeling and respond with compassion. It reduces conflict and enhances communication. 

When we connect with others emotionally, we build trust and respect, which strengthens our relationships. It helps us respond appropriately and with kindness. When students understand the feelings of others, they can avoid misunderstandings and reduce conflict. Finally, empathy enhances communication by allowing us to understand what someone else is trying to communicate better.

Empathy is a skill that can be developed through practice. Active listening is a vital component of empathy. It involves focusing on the person speaking and understanding what they are trying to communicate with teachers. Asking open-ended questions encourages the students to share more about their thoughts and feelings. These types of questions allow for a more in-depth conversation and they can learn more about the other’s perspective. Practising self-reflection is the process of looking inward and examining their own feelings, thoughts and behaviours. 

The power of perception
Many students think about stress as negative and something to be avoided because it leads to poor outcomes. This mindset increases anxiety, disrupts performance and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, students who see stress as a normal part of daily life and with a positive mindset experience stress as exhilarating and invigorating, and they reap the benefits of this extra energy to respond effectively to various challenges.

The impact on physical health
The way students think about stress also has a major impact on physical health. Students generally think about stress as detrimental and debilitating and show higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in response to challenging situations. But it isn’t just the experience of stress that affects health — the very perception that stress affects health also has an impact. 

Shift your stress mindset
Regardless of the natural tendency, students can shift their stress mindset. Understanding the role of mindset in influencing how you think about stress is the first step in learning how to reframe it in a new, more positive way. Students who learn strategies for reframing stress in a more adaptive way — as energizing and inspiring, not just exhausting and debilitating — show better psychological and physical well-being. This type of reframing reduces cardiovascular stress and its overall wear and tear on the body.

Building resilience in adults
Developing resilience in students is the key to mental health. The first task is to replace negative thoughts with positive, more realistic thoughts; controlling emotions so emotions don’t control them; and take positive action by setting a goal. 

Here are 4Cs: 
C - Control
C - Commitment
C - Challenge 
C - Confidence 

The control component can be considered the student’s self-esteem. Second, commitment means a student’s own personal focus and reliability. To be high on the commitment scale is to be able to effectively set goals and consistently achieve them, without getting distracted. A high commitment level indicates that the student is good at establishing routines and habits that cultivate success.

The third one is Challenge. To be high on the Challenge scale means that students are driven to achieve their personal best. They see challenges, change and adversity as opportunities rather than threats; and are likely to be flexible and agile.

The last element is Confidence. This is the extent to which students believe in the ability to be productive and capable; it is the belief that they can influence others. To be high on the Confidence scale is to believe that they will successfully handle the assignments. By inculcating and harnessing these behaviour skills, one can overcome any challenges.

A new school is a place where students get the experience and courage to make big decisions, prepare for circumstances and to fight with the world if the world is against them. If everything in life becomes predictable, then there would not be any fun in living. The renowned quality of all new schools in making students prone to life situations is astounding and it is this quality that strengthens their minds, hardens their hearts and enriches their souls.

(The piece is written by Dr Kalpana Sahoo, Associate Professor, XIM University and Chirag Chandan, Student, Class XI, Mothers Public School. Views expressed are their own)

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