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As we all know, teaching middle school is about straddling the elementary and high school worlds. It's our job to prepare them for their future as an independent high schooler, but many aren't ready to be independent. After all, some are still playing Operation, while some have moved on to playing Doctor. Some are still brought their lunch everyday, while others are cooking their own dinner as latch-key kids. How do we help them all academically and developmentally? That is the middle school teacher challenge. How do we "spot" these tween academic gymnasts without hand-holding? How do we prepare them for independence when parents may still be coddling? How do we support them when parents are ready to let go prematurely? Please share your tricks, tips, stories, and thoughts!