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Podcast Episode 2: Insights from a Student and Teacher on Transitioning to High School

Posted by Laura Burgess on Mar 3, 2022 1:44:58 PM

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you have done well in middle school, or you are the parent of someone who has! Transitioning to high school requires some slight modifications and a step above the habits that got you there. But you don’t have to know how to succeed in high school already, and you won’t be expected to figure it out by yourself.


In The Education Portal, a limited series podcast from Tabor Academy, we delve into some of these topics and go right to the source: asking high school students to share their experiences. Episode 2 features an exploration of how great teachers can impact their students and help them succeed during their transition to high school. We spoke to Tres, one of our original student podcasters from episode 1, and his favorite teacher. They cover the academic transition to high school, establishment of good habits, and the best part? They also covered what it feels like when your teachers make class feel like a fun, comfortable, and safe place to challenge yourself. 

Every year, Tabor English Department faculty member Dr. Sarah Kniesler asks to continue teaching ninth graders. She likes to be part of their adjustment to high school and watch their growth throughout the year. For Dr. Kniesler, it’s about giving them the tools they need to succeed, making sure they know they have the tools, and empowering them to use them. One of our student podcasters, Tres, chose her as his favorite teacher from his ninth grade year without a moment’s hesitation. He loved the specific way she went about creating a community within her classroom right from the beginning. Dr. Kniesler starts her class each day with a random question and allows the students time to get to know a classmate and discuss the question together. This gives them a chance to get to know everyone, and when it comes time to discuss more complex texts or find the confidence to share in class, the students feel more comfortable. 

Dr. Kniesler and Tres also shared their insight into the best ways to establish good academic habits. Dr. Kniesler emphasized the importance of preparing for assessments in advance to increase chances of retention rather than waiting until the night before. Tres emphasized how helpful this was for him to learn, given the increased expectations in high school. Tres spoke about having to adjust his academic habits because the effort required for certain academic outcomes in middle school was not sufficient in high school. Specifically, Tres spoke about including more detail and putting more time and attention into his writing. He found, though, that one major difference that helped was the amount of feedback he received from Dr. Kniesler. He explained that he would receive feedback to know how he could improve his writing and he could apply that in the next assignment. 

As amazing as Dr. Kniesler is, her methods are not the only resources available to ninth graders as they transition academically. Many other teachers have their own tricks, and our school has features in place to help every student get their academic journey off to a strong start. Faculty host office hours four afternoons per week. All ninth graders have a study hall during the academic day and a seminar program that covers time management and academic planning. Boarding students have evening study hall as well. Tabor’s ASSIST Center is a well-utilized resource offering academic support in specific subjects and general academic skills. Students meet regularly with their advisors to check in on their progress. 

Having spent a great deal of time together during the school year, Tres and Dr. Kniesler know each other pretty well. During our episode, we put to the challenge in our quiz to see just how well they knew each other! Dr. Kniesler knew about Tres’s family and his other interests, and Tres knew about Dr. Kniesler’s pets and her own academic journey. It’s easy to see how Dr. Kniesler is a much beloved teacher. And it’s easy to see how Tres took ownership of all of the opportunities for academic growth and how his determination and work ethic powered him to success!  

Hear more from Dr. Kniesler and Tres on The Education Portal!

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Topics: Student Life, Admissions, Podcast, Transitions