One of the (many) things that has consistently baffled me about me is my level of passion. Why do I get so dang worked up about a political commercial? Why do I train for triathlons, even though I am clearly not (repeat three times) what most would define as a true triathlete? Why does (insert Disney flick here) get me every single time?
It’s the reason I come to work in my middle school every day. With a smile on my face. Happy doing something I truly love.
how do I share this with my students on these April-soon-to-be-May-soon-to-be-summer days? How do I get my students as fired up as I am about learning this late in the game? How do I get them excited about learning new things? Expanding their brains? Trying (and sometimes failing) new endeavors? How?
Digging through my ever-expanding bag o’ tricks, I decided to pull out the Love and Logic gems from years back when we were trying to raise healthy, responsible children in my home. If it worked for them, it certainly can’t hurt with my “family” at school? Right?
It might be a long shot, but for now, I am determined to spend the remaining days of this school year sharing my continued passion for learning, passion for learner success and passion for developing positive, accountable young adults as they leave my little, middle world and venture into the bigger world of high school and beyond.
Keep the Passion!
Posted in Adolescent Development, Developmentally Appropriate ML Curriculum, Middle Level Advocacy
Tagged developmentally appropriate practices, Education, Learning, middle school, passion, Professional development, school, student engagement, Teacher, Triathlon
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How many times have you asked your middle level learner what s/he did in school or class that day, only to get the response, “Nothin'”? You’re not alone. It’s frustrating to get the discussion to go anywhere beyond…nothin’.
By utilizing something called the Socratic Method, we can foster learning and critical thinking as well as develop key dialogue skills necessary in a 21st-Century world.
The origin of the Socratic Method stems way back to the days of Socrates, where he emphasized asking deep questions to nurture thinking. The Socratic Method exposes the logic of one’s thought and typically uses a variety of questioning forms. The key is to cultivate true thought, to not just accept “nothin'” as an appropriate response. Let’s take a look at some examples of Socratic questioning in action and how we can apply them in our classrooms and homes:
- Tell me more/investigate reason or evidence: I’m not sure I understand. Can you give me an example or compare it to something I might already know? How did you come to that conclusion?
- Examine assumptions/not taking everything at face value: What are you assuming? What reasons do you have for this?
- Explore other ideas or viewpoints: I’ve heard your opinion. How might other people respond? How would you handle an objection by __________ about this?
- Think ahead/probe implications or consequences: What effect would ______________ have? Can you deal with the consequences?
- Question the questions: What is the math problem really asking you to do? How can we find out? What questions do we need to answer before we tackle this one? Where else can you find an answer to this question?
By incorporating any of these types of questions into our discussions with our middle level learners, we are fostering thoughtful and comprehensive thinking, a skill set vital for future problem solvers. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s imperative.
To learn more about Socratic Method, http://www.tip.duke.edu/node/84 offers parents/educators a wealth of information regarding promoting meaningful dialogue in adolescents.
Our roles as educators and parents of middle level learners are daunting ones. We somehow need to prepare our youth for a business world that requires skills not found in teachers’ manuals or academic model standards. Yet repeatedly, we hear business leaders tell us our graduates lack skills necessary for this “new” real world. What do we do to combine our real world of academic accountability and test scores with our students’ future real world of business?
In his book, The Global Achievement Gap, Tony Wagner identifies seven survival skills our students need to not only survive, but thrive, in a 21st-Century business climate. To give insight into what business leaders want from their future employees, Wagner summarizes below:
- CRITICAL THINKING AND PROBLEM SOLVING ~ “The idea that a company’s senior leaders have all the answers and can solve problems by themselves has gone completely by the wayside…The person who’s close to the work has to have strong analytic skills. You have to be rigorous: test your assumptions, don’t take things at face value, don’t go in with preconceived ideas that you’re trying to prove.” ~ Ellen Kumata, consultant for Fortune 200 companies
- COLLABORATION ACROSS NETWORKS AND LEADING BY INFLUENCE ~ “The biggest problem we have in the company as a whole is finding people capable of exerting leadership across the board…Our mantra is that you lead by influence, rather by authority.” ~ Mark Chandler, Sr. VP and General Counsel at Cisco
- AGILITY AND ADAPTABILITY ~ “I’ve been here four years, and we’ve done fundamental reorganization every year because of changes in the business…I can guarantee the job I hire someone to do will change or may not exist in the future, so this is why adaptability and learning skills are more important than technical skills.” ~ Clay Parker, President of Chemical Management Division of BOC Edwards
- INITIATIVE AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP ~ “For our production and crafts staff, the hourly workers, we need self-directed people…who can find creative solutions to some very tough, challenging problems.” ~Mark Maddox,. Human Resources Manager at Unilever Food North America
- EFFECTIVE ORAL AND WRITTEN COMMUNICATION ~ “The biggest skill people are missing is the ability to communicate: both written and oral presentations. It’s a huge problem for us.” ~ Annmarie Neal, Vice President for Talent Management at Cisco Systems
- ACCESSING AND ANALYZING INFORMATION ~ “There is so much information available that it is almost too much, and if people aren’t prepared to process the information effectively, it almost freezes them in their steps.” ~ Mike Summers, VP for Global Talent Management at Dell
- CURIOSITY AND IMAGINATION ~ “Our old idea is that work is defined by employers and that employees have to do whatever the employer wants…but actually, you would like him to come up with an interpretation that you like—he’s adding something personal—a creative element.” ~ Michael Jung, Sr. Consultant at McKinsey and Company
Now we know what the expectations are. What can we, as educators and parents, do to nurture our middle level learners’ growth in their next “real world?”