Laura Varlas

From Kid to Young Adult

April 2011 EL

In the April Educational Leadership, veteran middle school teacher Cossondra George (you may remember her from "What Makes Math Meaningful?") shares several strategies for guiding the transition "From Kid to Young Adult." For example:

  • Create learning environments that provide order, structure, and consistency in their increasingly complex adolescent lives. George posts a daily list of materials needed for the class, coming assignments, and an outline of the day's lesson. She also uses "do now" or "starter" activities at the beginning of every class and has a common location for handing in homework, getting handouts, and missed assignments.
  • Seek out ways to make learning active, hands-on, and student directed. George often takes learners outside (or at least out of their seats) and has students manipulate data that's relevant to their lives and interests.
  • Establish a clean slate policy. George is fair and swift when enforcing consequences for misbehavior, but she also does not carry yesterday's sins into today. Every student starts the day with an opportunity to be successful.
  • Build community through informal interaction. George finds that opportunities for appropriate socialization, fun, and humor throughout the day help improve student behavior and teacher-student relations.

George loves teaching middle school for all the changes, awkwardness, and new experiences her students are navigating.

What do you love about teaching this age? What challenges you?

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