Year of Publication

2021

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Education

Department/School/Program

Educational Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Tricia Browne-Ferrigno

Abstract

There are few life-changing experiences like transitioning from elementary school to middles school. A new setting, new peers, new teachers, and new structures have been shown to elicit a myriad of emotions from students as they transition into middle school. A student’s academic record, accommodations, and other pertinent academic information follow a student into middle school; however, their social and emotional portfolio does not. Research has shown that students who are negatively impacted the most by transitioning into middle school also show their academics are negatively impacted, with title 1 students showing to be even more negatively impacted. However, school counselors have been shown to positively support students as they transition into middle school to alleviate those emotions that negatively impact them during the transition process.

The school counselors of Haddonfield Independent School District (HISD) have shown that they do not have set processes to support students' mental health needs as they transition. Some counselors had created their processes but had not shared their ideas with others, or the counselors had no processes at all. The reasons stated for this are that they had not thought to implement such processes, they had not been told to do so, and they had not been trained to do so. During the designing and reconnaissance phase of the study, it became apparent that the counselors’ ability to communicate and collaborate as a possible reason for the lack of processes, as well as the belief, or self-efficacy, of the elementary school counselors being low because they had not been trained to do so.

Throughout January to March of the 2020-2021 school year, I implemented a Communities of Practice (CoP) consisting of six elementary school counselors who all work in a Title 1 school setting. Using mixed methods action research, the participants engaged in pre and post-surveys and end-of-meeting surveys. I also took meeting observation notes for each of the meetings. Throughout the study, we engaged with several stakeholders that included elementary school counselors and middle school counselors, and we presented our possible transition processes to the area superintendent. The study results being that by participating in the CoP, the participants saw an increase in their perception of communication and collaboration with their peers and increased perception of self-efficacy as it pertains to supporting the mental health needs of transitioning students from 5th grade into 6th grade.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2021.235

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