Every year, students struggle with the adjustment to seventh grade. Seventh grade is hard. Students are asked to do higher-level work, are asked to do so more independently, and generally have higher expectations. Both from their teachers as well as their parents. To make it even more frustrating, students are undergoing physical and hormonal changes that mean even MORE personal frustration and social discomfort. 7th graders fight more with their friends, their parents, and themselves. They are no longer the babies of the seventh grade, but not yet the cool “grown men and women” of eighth-grade. We are essentially talking about middle children. A pack of 100+ of them!
Let’s face it: how many of you would like to relive your 7th grade year? Seventh grade can be awfully frustrating for a number of our students.
Also let’s for the new responsibility of chrome books on students! A one-to-one environment is making great strides in student learning and engagements but let’s not pretend that this is easier for students. There is pressure on them to take care of the devices that dimension teachers that are asking the students to do more work and more complex work because of the availability of these devices. This is all good for the kids but we can overlook how difficult it is for them.
My class, For one, asks students to do things they haven’t really done before. They have to work with other people far more frequently they have to dig deeper and find connections between their background knowledge in the text they are reading, and generally have to think more abstractly than they have in the past. What used to be a fairly easy class with memorizations of dates and places and people and times, is now a mess of different perspectives. Christopher Columbus may not have been a good guy?! History is now just a giant great area and kids going to navigate their way through it using their own intellect and reason. We ain’t making construction paper pilgrim hats anymore. This stuff is HARD!
And obviously only gets more challenging as students progress to more rigorous academic course, but this is where it begins for many kids. A year ago they were days removed from being a part of an elementary building. Today they are just a year from deciding what high school courses they will take. It’s a huge leap for both kids and parents.
Again how many of you would like to be a junior high student again?
This is not a plea for sympathy for middle school students. It’s not even a mechanism to give them excuses for their behaviors and decisions they make. Instead I think it’s important that were reminded of the challenges that these kids face. Many students don’t want to talk to the parents about school when they get home. Many students also want to be more independent and not rely on mom and dad for their success.
I am by no means an expert in parenting middle school students, but I think it’s helpful to understand where they’re coming from sometimes. I haven’t yet had the joy of parenting one but I’ve taught thousands of middle school students and constantly notice the resiliency that many of them showed during this year. It’s one of the main reasons I continue to teach seventh grade. Because despite all the horrible things kids get to go through this year, the ones that are supported the most become resilient, hard-working, creative, and prepared for success beyond this year. Short-term frustration leads to long-term foundations for success.
Seventh grade is hard. Let’s keep this in mind while we go through the peaks and valleys of middle school life this year.
**Please excuse any errors in the writing of this piece. I’m stuck in traffic on interstate 55 and find a nice use of my time would be the voice to text feature direct this blog! So I’ll go back and revisit it and clean it all up in a little bit but I thought it fun to leave it raw and intact as it was originally written.