The next few sentences are a challenge. I'd like to write something that my audience will like. And I know what many of you want: a recipe for dealing with kids who bully. The "right" thing to say. Some of you may be wondering, "What's the choice theory formula when faced with this situation?"
Note: Just as I warned about the dangers of identifying kids as "victims" in my last post, I try to avoid calling kids "bullies." So even though it's faster and easier to label a kid as a bully, I prefer to say "a kid who bullied another." It might seem like a subtle difference, but I think it dramatically changes our perception and behavior.
After reading "Standing Up to Bullying: Refusing to Be a Victim," a reader from New Hampshire asked me to discuss how I would handle a student who bullies another. The following scene (or something like it) happened to me more than once during my time as a middle school administrator.
Post written by Naomi Thiers, associate editor, Educational Leadership
What would it take to make all the children we serve strong readers?
It's a bold question to ponder as you prepare for the coming school year. Sadly, according to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress, U.S. students are not all strong readers. But authors in ASCD's Educational Leadership (EL) summer issue, "Strong Readers All," share stories of how they successfully helped all learners improve their reading skills—by using nontraditional approaches at every grade level.
Byrne Creek Secondary School opened its doors to students for the first time in September 2005. The school was planned and built to solve an overcrowding problem in the south part of Burnaby. Planning and opening any new school has challenges; Byrne Creek was faced with additional problems. The community had the highest number of refugee students in the metro area of Vancouver, with the majority of refugees from Afghanistan and Africa. Many were functionally illiterate in their own language and had faced hardships such as famine, war, and other atrocities in their own countries. Two inner city elementary schools in the Byrne Creek neighborhood had been trying to support these families and were very helpful in making recommendations. In addition, the neighborhood is a low income and working class income socioeconomic community. The issues being faced by the elementary schools foreshadowed the challenges that the new Byrne Creek Secondary would face.
In the past year, experts and practitioners in the field, whole child partners, and ASCD staff have shared their stories, ideas, and resources to help you ensure that each child, in each community, is healthy, engaged, supported, and challenged and is college-, career-, and citizenship-ready. These are the top 10 posts you read in 2011.
Ah, middle grades ... a complex, challenging, and confusing time in adolescence. Also a complex, challenging, and confusing age for adults to support and develop! In April we looked at the crucial importance of this childhood stage. Supporting students as they transition physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially is key to ensuring that they are successful and healthy in high school and beyond.
Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Al Arth, a professor of education at York College in Nebraska, and Caroline Bloxom, principal of Pocomoke Middle School in Maryland.
Watch how Pocomoke Middle School has created a safe and welcoming learning environment for students by combining a rigorous curriculum with strong emotional support for its student body.
Explore "The Transition Years" with ASCD's Educational Leadership, and learn what authors recommend as students move from early childhood into elementary school, through the middle grades, and then into 9th grade. Noted middle school educator Rick Wormeli shares five mind-sets that can help educators ease the middle school transition for their students.
Develop a "both/and" mentality to maintain an equal commitment to middle grades students' academic success and personal growth. Author Bob Sullo offers insight, experience, and resources to help educators guide students through the messy process of identity formation and create learning experiences that increase achievement and minimize disruptions to learning.
Equip students with skills for future success early. Guest blogger Jason Flom shares his school's two-part plan to ensure that students leave elementary school with some basic communication and leadership life-support systems.
Create a culture of caring for middle grades students and staff in your district like Hesston Middle School in Hesston, Kans., did through its Transition Buddy Program.
Build student capacity in the middle grades through project-based learning (PBL). Guest blogger Andrew K. Miller shares developmental stages in the PBL process that provide focused guidance and foster student growth emotionally, socially, and cognitively.
Understand the purpose of middle schools and the strategies that make them work. Louisiville, Ga., principal Samuel Dasher shares elements that can improve the success of any school.
Read what educators had to say about the middle grades 20 years ago in the December 1973 issue of Educational Leadership, "Middle School in the Making?"
Share what you love—and what challenges you—about teaching students who are transitioning from kid to adult.
Highlighted in Edutopia's Schools That Work series, Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Ky., developed its CARE for Kids social and emotional learning program to help students become better learners while developing the skills necessary to become self-aware, caring, and connected to others. Find tips, resources, and how you can replicate it in your school. In this video, students start the day sharing feelings with their peers.
In late March, ASCD held its 2011 Annual Conference in San Francisco, where sessions engaged participants in dynamic, diverse dialogues addressing the challenges of learning, teaching, and leading, including:
Puberty, the final frontier. Er. Puberty, the inevitable and unavoidable frontier.
As a 5th grade teacher, I think of myself as a NASA flight coordinator, preparing students for their intergalactic journey from childhood to adulthood—a journey in which they abandon the laws of physics for the laws of adolescence. At the beginning of 5th grade they arrive as children; at the end they disembark, rocketing for the middle years. What happens in the months between can play a vital role in helping them navigate the strange and wondrous worlds they encounter in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.
Young adolescents have specific developmental needs as they negotiate puberty and its effect on their intellectual, social, and emotional lives. Appropriate environments, strategies, and programs provide structure for academic success.
In his book, The Best Schools: How Human Development Research Should Inform Educational Practice, learning and human development expert Thomas Armstrong identifies 12 educational practices that support the social, emotional, and metacognitive growth of middle-grades students and provides school examples from each. These practices are
Safe school climate
Small learning communities
Personal adult relationships
Positive role models
Expressive arts strategies
Health and wellness focus
Emotionally meaningful curriculum
Student roles in decision making
Honoring and respecting student voices
Facilitating social and emotional growth
Too many educators believe that early adolescence is either a time for whipping kids into shape for the academic rigors of high school or a time for patient (if painful) endurance while they go about their tortuous process of growing up. It is neither. There is a great middle area between these two extremes that must be the focus of those who wish to deal with the reality of young teens. Young adolescents live rich and intense lives. To demand that they leave these lives outside of the school boundaries is to commit a serious injustice to them, and it also threatens to deprive society of the gifts these kids have to give. By embracing the passion of early adolescence and using that energy to revitalize the classroom, educators will ensure that these vibrant young voices will sing out their hopes, fears, joys, and sorrows in a way that can benefit not only themselves but the rest of society as well.
Which of the developmentally appropriate practices for young adolescents described in this chapter are most important in your opinion? What other practices would you add to this list?
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?