Social Adjustment in Adolescents Entering Middle School

Early Adolescence is a period of self-doubt, strange hormone imbalances, and definitely caring more about that moment before third period when your crush waved to your best friend instead of you. To be honest, academic achievement is pushed to the wayside to make room for these adolescent foibles. A middle school teacher should have tools that they bring to the classroom knowing these things, and perhaps make their classroom a safe haven amidst the emotional turmoil they may or may not be going through.

My first source discusses the possibility that the reason that the need for so much social adjustment in so little time is the exact age at which this change is occurring. The transfer from elementary school to junior high happens around the age twelve or thirteen. The source claims that this disruption makes the adjustment period much longer than it has to be. Many school systems across the United States has actually already put this practice to test. In many other places, junior high starts in Grade Six, and not Grade Seven. While you still have the youth who hit puberty earlier, it allows the majority of middle school students to adjust smoothly before hitting the tidal wave that is puberty. (Blyth, et al. 1983)

The same article discussed how going through the turmoil of social adjustment in secondary school could help the individual when dealing with issues later on in their life. It’s explained by the process of building muscle: When you start working out to get sick biceps, you have to break the muscle fibers and build them back up again. The scholars claim that by going through adolescent traumas, it sets you up to deal with harder traumas later on in life. Regardless,  they state that while this trauma is going on, it leaves little room for absorbing information. What is efficient for emotional development is not necessarily efficient for education.(Blyth, et al. 1983)

My second academic article discusses school climate and the social adjustment that occurs within the climate. The researchers used an already established scale called the School Climate Survey (SCS), which was a way to establish a contrast between the school climate that the students observed, versus the school climate the admin and teachers thought they were providing. The information that the students provided was organized by hierarchical multiple regression equations that first accounted for the effects of demographic variables (ethnicity, social class, household composition), and then accounted for the variables correlating to the students’ school climate perceptions (self-esteem, academic self concept, exposure to stressful events, and academic performance) The results  hypothesized that more positive perceptions of school climate would be associated with fewer externalizing and internalizing problems for boys and girls. Analyses were carried out separately for boys and girls, because research has shown differences in their expressions of maladjustment.

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Uni-variate tests showed that girls earned higher grades than did boys and reported more positive school climate perceptions, but did not differ from boys on self-worth, academic self-concept, or stressful events. What this evidence tells us is that the perceived school climate has a heavy involvement in establishing social adjustment in adolescents. A solution to improving the school climates is taking the results of the surveys and actually doing something constructive with them. Use the feedback of the SCS to provide better for your school’s population of adolescent students. Focus on low self concept if that is an issue at a specific school. Then focus on the destructive impact that cliques can have on young minds, and try to address and talk about cliques with the kids to discuss how better to include people. (Kuperminc, et al. 2010)

One more academic paper focuses on an issue that is rather selective, but if applied to the larger demographic of anti-social students could ease the process of social adjustment in post-secondary. A paper written by the academics Wolters, et al. titled “Social Adjustment of Deaf Early Adolescents at the Start of Secondary School: The Divergent Role of Withdrawn Behaviour in Peer Status” discusses the issue of including students, particularly deaf students, into the cohesiveness of the adolescent classroom and prevent the staggering statistics that state that deaf students are more likely to be anti-social. Like I said, the results of this study can be used to exrapolate on other anti-social students, reguardless of the reason behind their loneliness. In this article, the solution to including deaf adolescents was for the teacher to take into account the introduction of a deaf member into their classroom, and get other kids to learn how to communicate in order for the deaf student to feel more included. This process worked by introducing the student on the first day in class in sign language, and then getting the rest of his/her peers interested in communicating with them too. The teacher sent home a workbook of sign language so that the kids could pick up some basics on sign language. Even just knowing how to say “hi” “good morning” and “how are you” drastically changed the deaf student’s middle school experience. I stand to reason that dealing with other groups of anti-social teens is no different. If the teacher can pick out the students who are most likely to fall into anti-social patterns at the beginning of the school year, they can create more activities for the class specifically doctored to make those students feel special. The result is that anti-social teens make friends this way, and have an outlet for all their unresolved angst. (Wolters, et al. 2014)


Academic Sources:

Blyth, D. A., Simmons, R. G., & Carlton-Ford, S. (1983). The Adjustment of Early Adolescents to School Transitions. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 3(1-2), 105–120.

Kuperminc, G. P., Leadbeater, B. J., Emmons, C., & Blatt, S. J. (1997). Perceived School Climate and Difficulties in the Social Adjustment of Middle School Students. Applied Developmental Science, 1(2), 76–88.

Wolters, N., Knoors, H., Cillessen, A. H. N., & Verhoeven, L. (2014). Social Adjustment of Deaf Early Adolescents at the Start of Secondary School. Exceptional Children, 80(4), 438–453.



One thought on “Social Adjustment in Adolescents Entering Middle School

  1. Great read! This paper talks about the importance on contextual influences on individuals. School climates that are perceived to be cohesive, low in friction, and overall more satisfying may protect adolescents low in effortful control from emotional and behaviour oral problems because they provide a sense of belonging to the school. Gender and race also play a factor on how school climate effects may be. But that is a totally different sensitive topic! What do you think is the main concern for students that deter them from achieving greatness in middle school?

    Loukas, A., Robinson, S. (2004). Examining the Moderating Role of Perceived School Climate in Early Adolescent Adjustment. Journal Research on Adolescence 14(2), 209–233.


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