My son just finished seventh grade, his first year of middle school. As a middle school educator in the same school district, it has been fun to see the world of middle school in a different light -- as a parent and through the eyes of my own child. With that in mind, I thought it would be valuable to share some of the things I have learned.
Cell phones. I want them out of middle school classrooms (and elementary school classrooms if by some chance they've made their way into the world of K-6 students). And no, I haven't always wanted them out. This is tech-loving me, doing a 180 degree reversal of where I stood a mere months ago. I once believed that phones were instructional tools that if managed correctly could enhance learning. But the research plus my experience this year has dramatically altered my thinking. Because I care about kids, about teaching and learning, about school communities, and equity, I want these cell phones gone - put in lockers from the moment the first school bell rings until the end of the day. So why the sudden change in my thinking?
I've worked as a middle school educator for almost twelve years. I can easily channel my inner twelve year old, jetting myself back to my own junior high experience (yes, I was in 7th and 8th grade back when it was still called "junior high"). This year, however, is different. My oldest son is now in seventh grade, experiencing middle school at another school in our district. He loves middle school -- he's having fun and learning a lot. And I too have learned so much in these first few weeks as a middle school parent, already transforming my thinking as an educator. So in no particular order, here are just a few of the lessons I've learned so far.
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