Students adapt to a new school environment
February 23, 2021
Adjusting to a new school environment is a common challenge many students go through throughout their school life. As students begin their time in their new school environment, they face different new experiences, some with ease and some with difficulties.
Two people experiencing the same event can have different thoughts because of how they perceived it, like how students have different experiences and perspectives when entering a new school environment.
Steffan Surdeck, a Forbes council member, wrote in an article about perspective: “It comes from their personal point of view and is shaped by life experiences, values, their current state of mind, the assumptions they bring into a situation, and a whole lot of other things.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are over 9,000 students combined in Sequoia Union District. These students enter school with different perspectives. Some could find adjusting like a piece of cake, while others might see adjusting as a struggle.
But what factors make it easy, and what factors make it hard?
In an Instagram poll asking whether or not students had an easy or hard time adjusting to their new high school environment, a total of 48 students answered, with 48% of students choosing easy and 52% of students choosing hard.
For those who said it was easy to adjust to their new school environment, a common answer was friendships.
Kiana Domingo, a sophomore at Carlmont, said, “I guess it was the students that made it better. I mean, I had friends in classes, but I made new friends. So that was good.”
Another sophomore from Carlmont, Layla Brown, talks about how having a supportive friend group beforehand helped her adjust easier. “I think being able to have like, a supportive friend group coming into Carlmont just helped a lot,” Brown said.
Along with friendships, another popular answer about their easy adjustment to a new school environment was supportive teachers.
Zoraya King, a freshman at Sequoia High School, still had an easy transition to high school even with the online learning environment, thanks to understanding teachers.
“The teachers are very, very understanding. They’re like, ‘Hey, this is very weird. We don’t really know what’s going on too. Well, none of us know. But we’re gonna try and make this the best that we can, and they’re very open and accepting,’” King said.
Other students had a more problematic experience adjusting to their new school environments and asking about what made it difficult, and many gave ideas as to what to improve on.
Anna Bautina, a current sophomore at Carlmont High School, said, “One of the hardest things about adapting to the school environment is how you don’t fully know your way around campus, and you’re scared to ask for help.”
She thinks that “some sort of assembly where students can get closer” could be a helpful way to ensure an easy, positive adjustment to the new school environment.
The online learning environment added extra difficulties for new students adjusting to their new school environments.
Cassy Chin, a freshman at Sequoia, had some difficulties adjusting to online learning, “It took a lot of getting used to, it was definitely a lot more difficult to stay focused and motivated in the classes, especially since at Sequoia, not very many people have their cameras on,” Chin said.
Chin feels like teachers should put more thought into breakout rooms, “We don't really or my classes, we don't really do very many breakout groups,” Chin said. “And then when we do, the teacher just said, ‘Okay, go into the bigger breakout group,’ and they don't really assign anything. And also, it's not required to have your camera on.”
The teachers and staff also have a different perspective on how students adapt to their new schools. Some staff at Carlmont added how they felt about students adjusting and how they think they could help.
AVID teacher Addison Gaitán gave some insight into what she does to better the students' online learning environment.
“The most important thing for me as a teacher is that students feel safe and cared for. I don’t think they can really learn anything until that happens,” Gaitán said. “I try to create this environment for my students by setting clear expectations for discussion and language, amplifying students’ voices, and making sure all voices are heard.”
This shows how the atmosphere of the teacher and how they interact with their students impact how comfortable they are in the classroom.
Matthew Ledesma, a Carlmont counselor, also explained how he feels Carlmont handles new, incoming students.
"I think the Carlmont staff is very responsive to the needs of our students. They would reach out to me if they noticed a student was having a hard time and needed a counselor to check in with them,” Ledesma said.
School may not be everyone’s favorite time of day, but reviewing people’s perspectives can make it a more comfortable, enjoyable, and adaptable environment.