- Sherine Aboelezz, a former high school English teacher and current instructional coach at an American international school in the Middle East, shared with Edutopia some teaching strategies used in elementary schools that transfer well to a middle school and high school environment.
- For example, both children and teens can benefit from short "brain breaks," which may manifest as spurts of activity in elementary school, while middle or high schoolers may use these breaks for relaxation exercises, watching short time-lapse videos or conducting thumb wars.
- Secondary students can also benefit from some activities elementary teachers use to create safe learning communities — including greeting students by name and setting clear expectations — and using manipulatives and visuals to break down complex ideas and help students visualize and experiment with abstract concepts.
At times, education seems far too compartmentalized. Methods of instruction typically differ between preschool, elementary and secondary-level classrooms, because when teachers are trained, they're generally taught strategies for a specific age group, and schools are typically divided along the same lines.
However, while students' abilities and perceptions may change, they fundamentally remain the same as individuals. Some activities that work well at the elementary level can transition to upper grades and add more fun and a sense of community to the classroom. As students move onto facing and grasping more complex ideas in high school, they can also still benefit from teaching methods that break larger concepts into smaller ideas. Even as adults, teachers and administrators sometimes learn best this way. And thanks to software and apps including Bubbl.us, Coggle, Padlet and Gizmos, this instructional method can be adapted to work across these different age brackets.
Encouraging collaboration between teachers at different school levels may also help students transition from elementary school to middle school, or from middle school to high school. And though these teachers may oftentimes work in different buildings, this partnership can occur during professional development sessions or even online in district-run message boards. For secondary level teachers specifically, exploring other public elementary sites online is one of several actions they can take to bring fresh ideas to the classroom and help students retain some of the excitement and wonder they felt in their younger years.