Excursion 1 Reflection

For the first reflection, I found it interesting to read the questions that we have raised and experiences from middle school in our introductions followed by reading the This We Believe reading and reflect upon what one another has to do with each other. 

Overall most of the questions were surrounded by supporting students not only academically but more so socially. Along the lines of supporting students, questions consisted of learning about strategies to implement. Also, how to assess whether or not as a teacher, you are being effective overall. With all of the changes that come about throughout the middle school years, it could be a challenge to keep students engaged and wanting to learn as well as behaving according to the guidelines each school has set in place. For example, by using more than one form of media, you can change student's interest regarding a specific class subject and allow them to look at the content in a different light based on the way you deliver the material. Since middle school is such a critical time period in a young adults life, it is interesting to take the time to take a look back at the way in which the student was prepared for this transition and see how that has helped/hurt them. By including fun activities in the curriculum, interactive experiences can deepen engagement and understanding which is the goal for all teachers, no matter the grade/subject area. Moving forward, it'll be interesting to investigate what middle schools are doing/can begin to do in order to support the developmental needs of all of their students. 

My first thought after reading the This We Believe reading was that if the middle school years are the prime time for individuals to form what they're going to be like for the rest of their lives, why aren't they supported as such. Growing up I found middle school to be a transitional period where you were no longer treated like an elementary student and you spent your middle school years preparing for high school and beyond. We never discussed the social/emotional aspect of what this crucial time entailed. Although I feel as though one of the questions I wondered got answered because the reading discussed that in order for middle schools to be successful, they must implement the most effective practices for this specific age group. If student's developmental needs are not met, their academics will suffer as the two are connected. Since middle school is a time period where conflicting feelings and opinions come into play, it is important as the educator to deliver clear information while taking into account developmental needs. Education always had a hard time running with the changes that middle schoolers brought along, with the world changing just as rapidly, education and middle schools are not as prepared as they should be for future generations. Likewise, as family dynamics change, so does the adult figure that such middle school students have to turn to throughout all of the temptations that arise when having everything at their fingertips. It is the schools job to assist students in comprehending all of the issues that our society is faced with. If teachers are aware of the developmental needs of their middle school students as well as the rapidly changing societal issues, teachers can have a better understanding as to the learning that students need in the given moment. The reading did discuss using a variety of digital tools in order to better connect with the world which was discussed in a few of the questions as well. To sum it all up, the reading states that in order to guide and support middle school students, the education that we deliver to them must be developmentally responsive, challenging, empowering, and equitable in order to set them up for future success in all of their endeavors. 

    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito


      Your response is very thoughtful and thorough.

      You have posed a really interesting question/idea:

      Moving forward, it'll be interesting to investigate what middle schools are doing/can begin to do in order to support the developmental needs of all of their students. 

      When I read this I think of two lenses. The first is an individual classroom, with a learning environment and curriculum designed by one teacher or a small group of teachers. The second is the environment of the school building itself. What are the norms and expectations? How do the adults interact with one another and the students? What is valued and encouraged and what is not?

      One of the things I really like about This I Believe is that it provides a framework for investigating these things. Where I feel it come short is in providing practical guidelines for implementing these core principles. As always, the devil is in the details.

      What do you think?

      • Amanda Tsaktsirlis
        Amanda Tsaktsirlis

        Dr Ardito, I agree, I think it can be broken into two lenses as the building in itself and the way in which it functions and the teachers whether solo or teaching in a group. Practical guidelines for implementing these core principles are vital. I often find that guidelines aren't practical and applicable to the classroom. I'll have to do some outside research to investigate further. 

        • Gerald Ardito
          Gerald Ardito


          Cool. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

          • Hannah Treuer
            Hannah Treuer


            You are absolutely right when you talk about how although these middle school students are not yet ready to be treated like someone in high school they are also so over being treated like they are in elementary school. It is an incredibly delicate balance of finding where these middle students want to be physically and emotionally. Also, where they need or want to be are constantly changing which makes it even more difficult for us teachers to adhere to their preferences. I think the best way to do that, and the This We Believe text embodies, is that we need to be flexible and accepting above all else. Content is second to the way we connect with out students and the way they connect with us. 

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