During Winter Break I got to regroup with family and become re-energized by searching out new books and resources for good information that I can return to school with and hit the ground running. This break I was delighted to find a series called “What Were You Thinking?” on the Audible audio platform. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you HAVE TO. It was just what I needed to be able to take a step back and get my head back in the crazy mind of my middle school kids.
In every language and for many generations parents have been asking their children, “what were you thinking?!”. I know I heard this repeatedly in my own teen years, and now instinctively say it to my 12 and 7 year olds. Spoiler alert: they’re not thinking.
It really got me thinking about just how much technology and sleep deprivation plays in the decision making of students. Every generation has it’s own level of knuckleheadedness, but with the advent of accessible and constant internet (think: smartphones, tablet, gaming consoles, Google Docs, social media, oh my!) has added a whole new layer, and we’re not even close to being in control.
I started thinking about all of the educators who have said “I can’t do this forever” burnt out from constant 504 meetings, student apathy with assignments, and unfiltered student communication. How much more can we handle?! But alas! We are only in the infancy of seeing the ramifications of putting an iphone in the hands of a toddler, and as we learn more about that, we may also learn more about how to curtail these hazy side-effects and rise our kids up to their true potential.
More to come on this, as I was so inspired I had to write it out. I submitted a blog post to my beloved Free Spirit Publishing and can’t wait to hash out the details!
I returned to work last week, ready to tackle the last semester of the year. The first day back is often lacking a little energy with everyone break hangover so it’s always a nice catch up day in the Counselor’s Office, save a couple of years from leaving estranged and divorced parent visits and rapid enrollments for a clean cut. Luckily for me, my teachers are awesome and open to classroom visits right when we return (my last holiday gift for them to return to a little hold). These 8th graders are now entering the realization that they will be moving on to High School and making the big transition.
Having been on the 8th grade hallway a couple of times now, I’ve noticed that 2nd semester has this veil of docility to it. The students are really spending more time processing what is about to happen in their lives than talking! The lull is a double-edged sword though. Even though they’ve grown a lot, the quiet doesn’t mean the kids are magically matured into silence, it typically is a sight that they are FREAKING OUT. In fact, that becomes my leading question- “you’re feeling out. What’s up with that?” And they just nod and sniffle. A lot.
This transition is one of my favorite parts about working in Middle School. It’s biologically a changing tough time, and we get to act as bumpers to get them to their next phase in High School. I try to give them as much information about what they can expect, but the biggest thing I can do is teach them to be open to experiencing change and let go of trying to fight what they wish was true and just roll through what is.
I try to incorporate this into all of my interactions with students. From class choices, to friendship squabbles, to parental relationships, I remind students that they are always changing. “What were you like in 6th grade? Are you different?” Is always a go-to for them to remember that as time keeps moving so do they, and it’s ok to change.
As far as I’m concerned, any day where I get to watch a Family Vacation scene with students is a good day. Today we worked on applications for High School Academies (something in our division where students can attend another school, if accepted into a high caliber program). I get a little competitive of my kids during this time when I am in 8th grade, and so I try to provide as many opportunities for perfected their applications as possible.
Although crazy, filling out these applications is much like filling out a college application (minus the charge, and FAFSA, so better really). Today’s pop up session was regarding short answer questions, such as future goals, extracurricular activities, leadership roles, etc. I am trying to get the kids to realize that for any application, we are simply selling ourselves so that they stand out against other students from across the city. For Middle Schoolers, I find that just about anything where they get to be social can become engaging.
So alas, I decided to relate how to sell yourself in short answers to how to make a great speech. We started with talking about the Elevator Speech (which is essentially what we are doing on paper for short answers), and then we discussed a Banquet Speech. That is, how to wrap things up in a really pretty package to make everything sound magical and amazing.
Before we ended the session with an open lab where they worked on their application (thank you Google Docs for allowing me to say “share it with me and I’ll read it later” when I Have 60 kids ready for attention!), we make our own toasts; we make them specific and detailed and beautiful. It is so fun and one of my favorite lessons!
*** This is easily adaptable for High Schoolers in college application workshops, or for career and networking lessons in all grades!
Hello hello! It is still feeling like Summer here, but the bags under my eyes are a giveaway for September! What a great year start it has been too. A new school, New challenges, new kids, New team- and I have loved every second. I’m still missing my lovely and homey old school, but the change has helped me get over the ABANDONMENT of my newly high schooled babies. They are thriving, of course, but I still look for them in the hallways.
My latest blog post with the Free Spirit Publishing Blog is out! In this one we tackle young women and depression. Such an extremely dense topic, right?! As a kid observer and feminist, this topic hit close to home and I have so many opinions on it (the poor editor probably had to have a night-cap after sifting through my ranting!). The big message I wanted to send on young women and feelings in the eyes of society was this: just because it’s accepted, doesn’t mean it’s right. Take a look and let me know what you think!
I am so in love with Twitter. Still. One of the things that have been my favorite part of joining is growing a professional network through Twitter chats! (Hmph. My Middle School self is rolling her eyes at my dorkyness. As per usual.)
I like to hop on and off of chats, and have made a small chart of chats I have participated in or have been recommended because my brain is on beginning-of-the-year overload and I can no longer think in linked strands of thought. <—that was a run-on sentence but I am too lazy to think through a restructure. See?
Twitter chats move quickly, but if you don’t get caught up in trying to keep up with every detail, it gets easier to participate. Questions are posted in sequence every 3-5 minutes, and you respond with the hashtag associated with the chat you are on. Check one out and get involved! Even if you can only answer a question here or there, I promise you will gain insight and ideas for your school!
🤔🤔🤔 Is it just me or do chicks have no positive option? The “Queen Bees” might be the top option, but that is probably referencing a “drama queen” (ugh- my least favorite phrase), not a leader, but the top dog is smart and strong…
Yep. Four more days. What a Summer it has been. We have had some serious changes this Summer in my family, some super sad and some exciting. It always seems to happen that way that the Summer is so seldom a slow burn. I can’t decide which way I like more. But I am ready to head back.
The crazyiness will begin soon, as I step into a new school. After my babies left for High School I’ve decided to take the leap and start a new adventure. As sad as I am to say goodbye to my old school, I am really excited to get my hands into a new place, new population, and forge new friendships. I get so much inspiration from the people around me, sometimes I think they get fatigued from my harassment! So now it’s time to give someone else a turn.
To prep for returning, I started reading The Balanced Teacher Path which has really helped me get into the mood to set my mind right, and remember to support the teachers on my hallway. It’s such an easy read, contains personal stories, and suggestions for the classroom and home. I seriously recommend it, and think it would be an amazing all-school read.
I also got to spend today in training with all of the secondary counseling peeps in VB. It was tough to wake up early, but it was so perfect to get me reignited and ready for the year. I am itching to get in, take care of scheduling conflicts, and get the year rolling. It feels so good to be in a profession that excites me enough to get my tail out of yoga pants and into business.
I’m telling you, these guys are magical! They take my humble thoughts and really refine them and know how to make it look shiny! My second post is about positive peer pressure. I was excited to write about this topic because it is truthfully the most fun part of my job.
Kids are cognitively very self-centered, working more outward as their world expands. But they have so much capacity for kindness, that even developmental psychology doesn’t stand in the way of their impact on each other!