As I looked over comments from excursion0 I noticed a similarity in all the different questions. Some people wanted to know about how to ease the transition into middle school. Others spoke about meeting the needs of the students. One person wondered what else they could/should know. The similarity between all these comments boils down to one simple question: How can I be a good middle school teacher; because effective (and highly effective) middle school teachers are all of those things. We manage student emotions AT A VERY EMOTIONAL TIME in their lives. We offer advice. We service their educational needs. We do all of these things... And in order to do so, it requires that you get to know each and every one of your students completely; the whole child; their likes, dislikes, family life, driving forces, etc… That is my advice. If you have already eased their transition, and are meeting (and hopefully exceeding) their academic needs, then the only thing that remains is to get to know them better; to converse with them; to teach them the intangible life lessons that one can never find in a Dunder Mifflin text book (<-- Office Space reference... It's actually Houghton Mifflin); to show them that in these uncertain times there are, in fact, adults that are aware of, and more importantly, care about their plight.  On page 5 of the “This We Believe” article, the author states, “It is vitally important to recognize that the areas of development -- physical, intellectual, moral, psychological, and social-emotional—are inexorably intertwined, making the achievement of academic success highly dependent upon the other developmental needs also being met.


                To get to know the whole student, for every student, is no easy task.  They will resist.  Furthermore, once you think you know a student, they change, or their world changes, and you need to start all over again.  On page 6 of “This We Believe” the author suggests, “Early adolescence is also a period of tremendous variability…. Changes occur irregularly as young adolescents enter puberty at different times and progress at different rates.”  The text goes on to say that, “Individual

differences proliferate,” which prevents one from making global assumptions.

                In my experience, assumptions expire rather quickly.  The only things one can assume is that every day and every student will be different.  More importantly though, we should ABSOLUTELY assume that they ALL NEED US.  As middle school students, they are subject to exponential levels of peer pressure.  The opportunities to derail their progress surround them, beckoning for their attention.  THEY NEED US; The powerful, confident role models in their lives who act in the interest of the greatest good, definitively and with purpose.  This person that stands in front of them on a daily basis will help to shape their perception of a what makes responsible, upstanding adult.  This idea is supported in “This We Believe” when the author brings up the notion that, “Educators who understand these young people and the… context in which they grow to maturity will make informed decisions about the kind of… learning experiences that young adolescents need.

                Knowing one’s students on a more personal, meaningful level creates a sense of trust.  Once a student trusts you, they become more malleable; capable of being shaped in the direction of the 13 descriptions/behaviors the National Middle School Association says will make them a “fully functioning, self-actualized” person.  That being said, we as middle school teachers are in the unique position of facilitating habits that our students will carry with them as they continue to grow into who they will eventually become.  As such, it is our responsibility to do so relentlessly.  Anything less would be criminal.

    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito


      I really appreciated your responses to both the reading and your colleagues questions and concerns. You have made a quite passionate plea for understanding one's students, something with which I completely agree.

      I invite you to look at two things to help deepen your inquiry into this topic. First, take a look at the specific actions you take with your students and the classroom structures you establish and maintain. What are they? How did you decide on these? What specifically do you do to create, establish, and maintain them? What effects do they have on your and your students?

      I eagerly await your response.

    ED 524 Spring 2020

    ED 524 Spring 2020

    This is the online home for ED 524 Spring 2020.

    Latest comments