A new Gallup poll studied factors related to student engagement, optimism, and well-being revealed that students scored relatively high on all these factors.
Except when you examine the findings for middle school students: (italics mine)
“Many adults are apt to blame hormonal and other life changes for the drop in student engagement at the middle school level, but that is not how students tend to explain it, he added. Instead, students are more likely to say that they are “not known, not valued, not recognized” at the secondary level, as they were in elementary school. They also indicate that their school days are stripped of “play” in middle school.
So, turn that reality into goal statements and we should have a very clear idea of the work we need to do.
Public school teachers have their challenges for sure. On top of handling large class sizes, coping with intense student tracking and detailed record-keeping, managing curricular pressures, there needs to be a focus on emotional and social learning.
They would think our work in these areas with students is a piece of pie.
As Jewish educators, we have the luxury of working with teens on an emotional and spiritual level.
For the most part, we have small classes, little curricular pressure, less record keeping.
We should be aceing this challenge and making such a difference with students in this age group.
Instead, students face the middle school reality, along with the intensity of the 7th grade (Bar/Bat Mitzvah) year.
How playful is that?
So, how can we make it more so? Mentoring? Trope contests? D’var Torah write-ins?
We can not continue with the ‘business as usual’ paradigm.
So, I know, Gallup’s results aren’t directed at Jewish educators.
And, there is no call to action in the article detailing Gallup’s results.
But we know that we’re not succeeding with this age group.
Photo credit: License, Free-use, creative commons.
- Back-to-school: 5 tips for middle school parents (ocregister.com)