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Is Middle School an Effective Educational Entity?

I came across a very interesting teacher's perspective on the middle school recently. After reading it, I realized that one inherent issue with middle school is that it has always and still does lack definition. Yes, one could argue that it is defined by its title...a "middle school" that is between elementary and high school. However, is it treated as such? Not in many districts. Should the middle school follow a curriculum and structure of its own? Are tweens a group of their own? I think so. I think the middle school needs to be examined very carefully. I feel that the majority of high-school drop outs don't wait until high school to fall behind, give up, and drop out. At the same time, most fifth graders are still trying hard, trying to please their teachers, parents, etc.

The document that I found that made me start to consider this issue is available upon request. There are undeniable issues with what teachers are being asked to do in Middle Schools across the nation. I think the time has come to look more closely at those who have for so long been neglected.

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    Jan 15 2013: I think that elementary school and middle school need to be redesigned. The rules that work for 3rd graders are not necessarily the best for 10th graders. Same with 8th graders.
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    Jan 15 2013: Nicole, I agree with Fritzie. I am not for sure what you are seeking. In my opinion, Jr High is a transition period. You must become responsible for changing classrooms ... for a different means of instruction presentation .... it allows the student some independence while under the guidance of various instructors ... It allows the student to make errors that are not critical to educational growth and GPA damning .... It is the time when shaping, molding, and mentoring are the most valuable ...

    If we are way off target then please relay what you are seeking. I am not sure if you are directing this towards students or teachers.

    Be well. Bob.
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    Jan 15 2013: Nicole, I am not certain I know what sort of response you want.

    Some middle schools are 5-8, some 6-8, some 7 and 8, some 7-9. Kids have different developmental needs at different ages, so those who work primarily with adolescents need specific training in that age group.

    Many professionals believe middle school is the most difficult age to teach. Grade school students are easier to manage in terms of behavior and high school students have settled down a little relative to adolescents.

    Middle schools and each grade at middle school tend to have their own curricula and suitably so.

    Teachers can teach middle school if they have k-8 certification, middle school certification, or secondary certification, but many buildings prefer to use those with secondary certification for the purpose rather than k-8, because secondary people have often been required a higher level of attainment in specific content areas than k-8s.
  • Jan 14 2013: • look up the COGAT scores
    • be aware of accommodations for ICS
    • prepare for the NJASK
    • teach ELA
    • post your SWBAT
    • accommodate ESL
    • know who has ADD, AD/HD, or ADD/In
    • consult with the CST before recommending a student to INRS
    • read the BOE minutes
    • familiarize yourself with FERPA
    • he’s here because it’s the LRE
    • promote him because of NCLB
    • collect the papers for the PTA
    • and at the end of every week…TGIF!
  • Jan 14 2013: • only spend $200 of school money on class supplies every year (if you are a teacher, you know you that you spend at least twice that much on your own class every year)
    • make sure every child has the necessary materials with which he can learn
    • don’t ask parents to spend too much money on supplies
    • he needs texts read aloud
    • repeat, reword, clarify
    • pre-assess and differentiate
    • attend this workshop (that has not been differentiated)
    • read up on Howard Gardner, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Lucy Calkins, Mary Atwell, and every other educational guru that publishes a new idea
    • ask high level questions
    • practice for a lockdown in case of a school shooter
    • don’t talk about the shooting in Newtown
    • don’t allow a child to go to the nurse when she’s on lunch break
    • you can’t deny a child when he or she asks to go to the bathroom or to the nurse
    • don’t allow children to go back to their lockers
    • make sure every child has the necessary materials with which he can learn
    • don’t ask parents to spend too much money on supplies
    • only spend $200 of school money on class supplies every year (if you are a teacher, you know you that you spend at least twice that much on your own class every year)
    • flip your classroom
    • maintain a website
    • post your homework on the homework board every night
    • post your homework on your webpage every night
    • check to make sure every student has copied the homework
    • email his father every evening what the homework assignment is because he lies to his dad about having homework
    • email his father every afternoon to tell him if the homework is complete
    • her parents are divorced, and dad wants to be emailed everything that mom is emailed, but not on the same email because there is a no contact order
    • waiting on word about the custody hearing, but until then, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you contact his mom
    • He’s BSI
    • be familiar with IEP’s and 504’s
    • administer the SRI’s
    • meet with your PLC
    • make sure you’ve read the CCSS
    • enrich the ECG
  • Jan 14 2013: • one-on-one instruction is invaluable…be sure to sit with each child and give individual attention as often as possible
    • teens don’t always make the best decisions, so make sure you are constantly aware of what is going on in the class
    • use of apple products like iPads, iPhones, and iPods can greatly increase the effectiveness of your teaching
    • make sure all cell phones are in lockers at all times
    • reward students for good behavior
    • maintain contact with parents
    • pre-assess, regularly assess, post-assess
    • don’t spend so much time grading that you don’t get to plan
    • make sure your grades are in on time
    • don’t take too long to grade a paper
    • give constructive feedback, putting a grade at the top of the paper doesn’t help at all
    • don’t grade everything
    • make sure students be held accountable for their work
    • instill responsibility
    • if a child does not do well on a quiz or test, or does not complete his homework, give him a 50…not a 0
    • don’t use red pen to grade; it may hurt their feelings
    • allow students to write in any color they wish; it has been proven to enhance creativity
    • she has preferential seating: close to the board
    • he has preferential seating: in the back of the class
    • he has preferential seating: you must be able to pull up beside him quickly, easily, and without much distraction to help
    • she has preferential seating: not under a florescent light
    • he needs word banks
    • she needs a modified test with different questions
    • he is clinically depressed
    • she is a cutter
    • he has suicidal tendencies
    • they have bulimia
    • his mom passed away
    • her dad is in jail
    • he needs extended time to take tests
    • she only does ten minutes of homework per night
    • you’ll have to spend at least one hour every night grading and planning
    • you’ll probably have to spend at least four hours every weekend grading and preparing
    • you don’t get paid too little because you get summers off
  • Jan 14 2013: • display student work
    • make sure student work does not include a picture and name…only one or the other
    • know which students play which sports…maintain contact with the coach
    • plan team activities
    • only show movies that have educational value
    • make school an enjoyable place to be
    • save on the H drive
    • that document is on the Q drive
    • students can use the dropbox on the O drive
    • fill out a blue form if you need something fixed
    • if you need reimbursement, fill out a yellow form
    • plan your lesson ahead of time
    • when the copy machine breaks down, figure out a new plan in time for class
    • when the internet goes down, figure out a new plan
    • sometimes organized chaos means students are learning
    • reading partners should be able to discuss the book as they read
    • they need absolute silence to read carefully
    • gum chewing helps with ADD
    • don’t allow students to chew gum in school
    • reward children for good behavior
    • don’t give out candy
    • set your expectations for your students high
    • don’t discourage students by setting your expectations too high
    • be sure every child feels he or she can accomplish the goal set by you for the class
    • enrich the students who need it
    • remediate the students who need it
    • she has a peanut allergy
    • he has an epi-pen in case he gets stung by a bee
    • she has severe dyslexia
    • he needs to listen to the book on audio
    • he needs to use his computer instead of handwriting
    • don’t rely too heavily on technology because it is unreliable
    • incorporate technology into your class more
    • they are only on a fourth grade reading level in eighth grade
    • they can read and interpret texts on a 12th grade reading level in eighth grade
    • use small group instruction to differentiate
    • she has Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, so make sure his quizzes and tests are copied on colored paper
    • don’t single a student out
    • she has a hearing impairment, so make sure your back is never to her and she can always see your lips
    • circulate around the room
  • Jan 14 2013: The doc I found: A typical middle school teacher has between 90 and 160 students per year. Depending on the structure the school follows, classes can have between 20 and 30 students per class, and classes can last anywhere from 40 to 100 minutes. Many schools heterogeneously group students, which means that a single class can have students who read on a fourth grade reading level in the same class as students who will be in an honors English class in high-school and are already reading on a 12th grade reading level. Mixed messages are just the beginning of the problem…

    • teach your whole class how to read and write
    • teach each child how to interpret text
    • make sure every child has a text on his or her reading level
    • make sure each child can read complex texts
    • make sure every child can recall story plot, elements and explain their purpose
    • make sure every child can explain the theme of a text
    • ask high level questions
    • students should be able to interpret non fiction
    • students should be able to understand how ancient texts, such as biblical texts, are used in modern work
    • don’t include religion in the classroom
    • make sure every child stands and recites the pledge “One nation, under God.”
    • allow every child to have freedom of choice
    • maximize instructional time
    • take your time with attendance and don’t make a mistake
    • keep track of who is on what trip
    • make sure you give makeup work to anyone who was absent
    • collect and read all entries in the WNB in case a child has written something concerning
    • report any concerning entries to the guidance counselor
    • maintain a positive report with students
    • don’t touch or hug a student…even a pat on the back is NOT ok
    • actively supervise lunch duty
    • be sure you respond to parents in a timely manner
    • decorate the bulletin board
    • decorate your classroom
    • have comfortable seating areas for students to relax and read
    • don’t have anything that is covered in fabric in case of a lice breakout