What’s all this fuss about Middle Schooling? USQ Grad Dip Ed Vacation School 9-2-07 Steve Smith
Focus issues for today What is middle schooling? ‘What did you learn at school today’? Are young adolescents miniature adults? Do our schools need to change? Attributes of Middle Year learners What’s great about teaching in the middle school? Underpinnings of great middle schooling
What is Middle schooling?Engaging young adolescents within purposeful, challenging learning and healthy lifestyles…through • 1) Recognising that today’s young adolescents are becoming increasingly disengaged with schooling and learning and in many ways are different to yesterday’s youth • 2) Accepting that young adolescents aren’t miniature adults or children and have different physiological and emotional needs to students in other years • 3) Willingness to alter some of our practices and beliefs in order to ensure we are engaging young adolescents within purposeful, healthy learning experiences and lifestyles
What’s so special about Middle Years students? • Enthusiastic and Creative • Haven’t learnt to hide their feelings & emotions • Crave ‘active’ student-centred learning • Keen to develop relationships/rapport • Keen to bond with an adult • Loyal • Value justification and substantiation • Value honesty and fairness • IT savvy • Parental support/interest • Love learning through ‘Narratives’
1) Recognising that today’s young adolescents are becoming increasingly disengaged with schooling and learning and in many ways are different to yesterday’s youth • ‘Recent studies have shown that …. this is a time when the gap between low and high achievers increases markedly … many students lose their enthusiasm for learning, disengage from classroom activities and make the least progress in learning’ Middle Phase of Learning. State School Action Plan 2003
Even worse! • Shaw & Alchin (2005) suggest “Research undertaken in the Victorian Quality Schools Project showed little growth in literacy and numeracy achievements during school years 5 to 8. The achievement level of the lowest quartile of students actually declined.” The Australian Educational Leader. Vol 27, No. 4, p 27
“Students might leave school in Year 11 but they book their ticket in Year 8”Trevor Fletcher DDG (Schools) NSW
Perceptions of school culture:Attitudes to School scale Mean Rating All MYRAD students, March 2000 (n=32,210) Year Levels
Perceived treatment by teachers;‘My teachers take a personal interest in me.’ Mean Rating All MYRAD students, March 2000 (n=35,600) Primary: 45.9% agreed Secondary: 21.9% agreed
Children and teenagers todayProfessor Loretta Giorcelli • Are less attentive. Attention span = age plus 3 mins (Yet our lessons are becoming longer! … implications??) • Are more attention seeking • Are more impulsive • Are less compliant and more argumentative • Are more technically compliant • Are under more personal pressure • Are more globally connected • Have higher IQ scores • Are more subject to adult turbulence • Are more rights orientated
Our society is changing What do you think is the average age Australians: (2002 & 2010) • Leave school • Leave home • Marry • Become a parent
Our society is changing(ABS stats and projections) What do you think is the average age Australians: 2002 2010 • Leave school 17 19 • Leave home 26 29 • Marry 31 33 • Become a parent 32 35
Are our kids growing up too early? • Refer to early on set of puberty and Carr Griegg’s work • “Why do you think this is so?” “ our kids are physically rich yet emotionally anorexic” Gender issues ie underachievement of Boys and meaningful father conversation
Latency • What is it? • Why do we need it? • Modern trends • Implications for teachers
2) Acceptingthat young adolescents aren’t miniature adults and have different physiological and emotional needs to students in other years • Early teenagers are yet to grown into themselves . They are enduring a massive change to their mind and body. • Just as they haven’t grown into their bodies….they haven’t quite grown into their brains either. Physiologically the young adolescent brain is still ‘under construction’. • Middle years learners are NOT miniature adults.......so don’t try to make them one!
“Early teenagers are yet to grown into themselves . The average teenager gains 20 kilograms and grows almost half a metre in the space of four or five years. I’m sure many of you know the sensation of being in a room with a group of young people who seem to be a clumsy jumble of elbows, knees, pimples and groins. Just as they haven’t grown into their bodies. They haven’t quite grown into their brains either.”Andrew FullerStudents don’t experience physical and emotional maturation at the same time!
Up to the age of nine or ten the brain continues to be twice as active as an adult’s.(MYELINATION increases 10 – 18)
SleepAdolescents need more sleep than they did as children… around 9 and a quarter hours and they have a preference for sleeping and waking later than they did when they were children. Most teenagers’ brains aren’t ready to wake up until 8 or 9 in the morning“90 % of year 10 students are not getting enough sleep” Michael Carr-Greig
Sleep • What are some factors which impact on the quality and amount of adolescent sleep? • How important is sleep for our health? Humans can survive 36 days without food but only 11 days without sleep!
Increased risk takingAdolescents are risk takers eg Reckless behaviour, sensation seeking, risk taking . Maggs, Almieda and Galambos (1995) found that 80 % of 11 to15 year olds exhibited one or more problem behaviours in a month ( disobeying parents, school misconduct, substance use , anti-social acts such as theft or fighting)As Tracy Moffitt has pointed out risk taking during adolescence is normative. Risk takers feel more accepted by peers and view risk taking as fun. Non- risk takers are seen as anxious and over controlledImplications for teachers?
Re-structuring and the frontal lobes“The frontal lobes - the bit that helps us to plan, consider, control impulses, make wise judgements in short to be kind, caring, considerate people- is the last bit to mature. In fact someone probably should put a sign of the frontal lobes of most early adolescents saying “closed for construction” The frontal lobes are being re-structured at this time in a way that prepares them for adult life.”Andrew Fuller
Synaptic PruningBetween ten years of age and puberty, the brain ruthlesslydestroys its weakest connections preserving only those that experience has shown to be useful, The adage here is “ use it or lose it” – and this applies at any age. “Synaptic pruning” continues throughout life but occurs mostly during the late childhood and teenage years so that the synapses that carry the most messages get stronger and the weaker ones get cut out, This helps in refinement and specialisation.Implications: Relevant integrated curriculum????
EmotionsMiddle schooling is a stage of: • Developing a personal sense of identity and power • Developing a personal value system and intimacy • Emotional and psychological independence from parents What might be some behaviour and classroom management implications?
Middle years:Behaviour management“What a nightmare!” • If middle schoolers are beginning to grapple with self-identity and values and power …… what BM/CM strategies probably wont work?
Some thoughts • Inappropriate behaviour arises as a consequence of a relationship breakdown • Building positive relationships should reduce inappropriate behaviour • Behaviour management implies sustainable, permanent behaviour modification • The emphasis on classroom management might be on managing ‘good’ behaviour not ‘bad’ • Consider: “If I say or do this now, will it bring us closer together or will we end up further apart?” William Glasser
Destructive habits for an effective relationshipJohn Boulton • Criticising • Blaming • Complaining • Nagging • Threatening • Punishing • Bribing
Middle years:Behaviour management • Great BM and CM is anchored on the establishment and acceptance of ‘EXPECTATIONS’ • What will be your expectations and how can you establish them? • Can you ‘undermine’ your own expectations? If so how?
BM considerations • The decision to behave lies with the student • Teachers influence the conditions to behave • No BM strategy works well for all students all the time • Idle minds are prone to misbehave • Sarcasm rarely works and will often inflame the situation • ‘Its much easier to be firm at the start and relax later than vice versa’
BM considerations (cont) • Try to get to know your students and names ASAP • Vary your methods, manner and teaching style but not your expectations • Discipline and self-discipline is established outside the classroom • Don’t blow things out of proportion • ‘Don’t fight a pig in the mud’ • ‘Try to fight fire with water’ • ‘Be hard on the problem but soft on the person’
BM considerations (cont) • Show students you have a sense of humour and you are human • Vary your T/L methods and manner • When modifying student behaviour identify the specific issue eg ‘lift your chairs quietly’ • Ask your supervising teacher for ideas which have been successful with the class/student
Consequence of poor preparation! • ‘Proper preparation prevents p#ss poor performance’ • A well planned and pedagogically sound lesson is a great preventative BM strategy
Effective Classroom management micro-skillsEducation Queensland • Establish clear expectations • Give clear instructions • Use waiting and scanning • Acknowledge students on task • Demonstrates encouraging body language • Descriptive encouraging
3) Willingness to altersome of our practices and beliefs in order to ensure we are re-engaging young adolescents within purposeful, healthy learning experiences and environments • You have a licence/responsibility to make learning purposeful, enjoyable and challenging • Use the freedom provided within the QSA syllabii • Opportunities to enrich learning through purposeful integration of KLAs • Opportunities to negotiate learning contexts etc with students • Responsibility to re-visit and reinforce key competencies, capacities, traits, behaviours, perceptions etc
Findings: The Second CircleThe classroom level: On Productive PedagogyMean Ratings of Dimensions of ‘Productive Pedagogy’ from Classroom Observation Data
Perceptions of learning: Having time to think Mean Response Rating Year Level Thinking trial and comparison data, May 2000 (n=5,507) Primary: 56% agreed; Secondary: 34% agreed
Teachers’ perceptions:Individual interest and knowledge Teachers say: “The number of students I teach each week is sufficiently small to enable me to get to know all of them individually.” Primary: 53% agreed Secondary: 34% agreed “Students in the middle years are happier when they relate to a small team of teachers for most of the time.” Primary: 88% agreed Secondary: 60% agreed MYRAD 2000
Perceptions of learning: Having time to think Teachers: • “The time-table allows students at this school to engage in in-depth learning for extended periods of time.” • Primary: 56% agreed Secondary: 24% agreed
Student decision-making and self-regulation Students: • “My teachers lets us have some say in what we do in class.” • Primary: 62.9% agreed Secondary: 34% agreed Teachers: • “My students are involved in classroom decision-making about the curriculum.” • Primary: 34% agreed Secondary: 24% agreed
‘I give up’Young adolescent mental health and resiliency • Resilience is the happy knack of being able to bungy jump through the pitfalls of life. It is the ability to rebound or spring back after adversity or hard times” Andrew Fuller
Some factors effecting resilience • One particular strength is identified and celebrated… “Island of competence” • At least one stable mature adult confidant • A supportive peer group • Others?
What’s so great about teaching Middle School students? • You have a licence/responsibility to make learning purposeful and enjoyable • Use the freedom provided within the QSA syllabii • Opportunities to enrich learning by integrating KLAs • Opportunities to negotiate learning contexts etc with students
What’s so great about teaching Middle School students? • You develop Student/teacher relationships/rapport which carry over • You will experience the highs and lows of teaching regularly • Students are enthusiastic and crave active student-centred learning • Might be the last stage that parents feel they can assist student learning … so create the partnerships • Professional support eg MYSA
What are some challenges of teaching in the Middle school? • Plan engaging learning experiences • Procure a wide range of material and human resources • Becoming IT savvy • Collaborative planning • What is ‘student-centred learning? • How do you integrate the curriculum? • How do you negotiate with students? • Noisy classrooms • Letting go of absolute control • Creating partnerships • ‘Putting up’ with student enthusiasm • Co-curricular expectations
How might you hook kids on learning? • Discussion