What will do the most to improve middle school education?

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Michael Buss (not verified)

What is needed is a

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What is needed is a curriculum that addresses self-discipline; therefore ethics, morals, values and respect. The ever increasing sense of entitlement that these middle schoolers come at me with is alarming. If we teach them socialiazation skills, then they may have a chance to succeed. Let's face it. Anyone who has taught middle school knows that a significant amount of time is spent teaching respectful behaviors anyway, so let's give them what they truly need-- a way to positively navigate through life. Throwing money at a problem doesn't work. Teaching kids how to get along in the real world does. Michael Buss 8th English/Reading Gaiser Middle School Vancouver, WA 18 years exp.
Shannon Fuller (not verified)

Students need to be held

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Students need to be held accountable for their progress and not passed through regardless.
Bob Kachurek (not verified)

Middle school students need

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Middle school students need more real-world, project-based learning -- projects that they can lose themselves in, that are so intrinsically interesting and compelling that they will lose track of time. Most of us educators have seen a great project capture students minds and hearts and put them in "the zone" where learning become married with "play", students feel a part of something much bigger then themselves, or a project calls upon them to work as a vital part of a team that is on a mission. The project can be a simple as making contraptions to complete in a classroom Electromagnetic Fishing Derby or a complex as a mini-United Nations where the Iraq situation is the main item on the table.
Deena Harper (not verified)

Many have posted excellent

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Many have posted excellent suggestions....I agree that 6th graders should be in elementary...7th-9th should be grouped together....cross-curriculum approach with a strong emphasis on teaching students to become scholars and identify how their education is or can be made to be relevant to their immediate and future needs and goals
Jennifer (not verified)

The push many years ago that

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The push many years ago that students should be pushed through middle school whether they pass their classes or not is not only causing students to be more disruptive and not accountable in the middle grades it is also bringing down the standards and the level students can reach in grades beyond middle school. The first thing that MUST be done is a rigorous promotion standard that requires that students pass their core classes (reading, writing, math, social studies, science) or they will not be promoted to high school. Students will take their learning more seriously and will be able to apply the study skills that they learn in middle schools.
Mark DeSalvo (not verified)

Thus far comment posters are

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Thus far comment posters are those we should look for--it will take a comprehensive approach, but here is a simplistic outline: 1. Quality teachers, staff, school administrators, and district administrators willing to hold to providing the best and most for all students regardless of SES and the money it will take to get there--in many cases, nothing more than what is already available. 2. Teachers: Hire teachers who believe they make a difference and believe we don't need years and years of discussion to make changes in achieving outstanding results in academic and social discipline. Hire teachers who can show excitement for the application of content material, not the regurgitation of it. Whether these teachers come from colleges or from the workforce, the main criteria should be that they demonstrate the ability to first look at themselves for any failure, second to what they do as the point of failure, and third to a constant elimination of the point (s) of failure. We can't ask for more than teachers who never give up on bringing kids forward and who do it in a way that doesn't make school feel like boring work. 3. A more united community: Agencies must come together more than presently seen to support school efforts to maintain high achievement and social discipline, not only for the success of the students, but for the success of the schools and parental units. The present process is fragmented and seemingly at odds with schools for no reason other than territoriality and the reverence of the almighty dollar--there is enough work and money available to not only maintain present programs, but to supply the funding for change that is needed. Like other posters have stated, if there is a lack of authority/structure within the schools, you can have the best teachers wasted and yearning for another place to be, and disenfranchise those wanting to learn into, at best, mediocrity. 4. Hold to contracts for performance--no adminstrator, teacher, or staff member of any quality will ever not put his/her name to statements of excellence and to some guarantee that he/she will get students from one state of perfmorance to another. And the reason is that they are that confident in their content ability and their love of children and society that they won't allow it to happen--Failure is not an Option. They may fail to reach a specific goal, but they put expectations so far ahead of where they are that they never fail to get significant gains and adapt to get continuous gains year after year. The idea of a "burnt" teacher is almost always not a cause of students--it is a cause of poor administration is assisting teachers in mainitaining high standards, standards that transcend time and technology. 5. Parents: A need for parents to be willing to invest quality time into their children or in having others provide that quality time, without undoing. All it takes is for some simple interest in what the child has learned on a daily basis, some simple talk about the future and the hopeful states that a child has an ability to achieve his/her goals. 5. Students: come as they are--we take them from that point forward as efficiently as possible. We, as school systems, should be willing and able to provide an "up to 24 hour" system where even the most offensive students can learn more socially adaptive ways in a short amount of time--this is where the community resources come into play in a seemless manner. 6. This process works for all levels of school, not just middle school students. The primary need in middle school is for flexibility, relevance, and structure. There is a need for variety in instruction and envrionment because the students are developmentally open to everything and complaining about the very same. They want and need guidance within exploration. We are the safe place to make that happen. We are the ones who should be clear on expectations, understanding when things go wrong, facilitators of moving forward, and guardians of high achievement for all.
Jim Kilkenny (not verified)

I get a sinking feeling

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I get a sinking feeling whenever I read comments that state that anyone is condemned to failure for any blah, blah, blah reason. If we teach that externals govern us, and we persist in having an outlook that something like the home environment or poverty or some other very important social problem is causing a student in the middle school to fail, I have to ask how does that same set of circumstances give rise to success later in life? I am no polyanna who thinks that these kids pull themselves up by their bootstraps. I am a pragmatist who says with the level of poverty that we have, it is still better than most developing nations I have visited. We don't have shanty towns in our warm weather states. Somewhere and somehow our students grow up. We can attack the problems the way that European and Asian countries do, we can put a premium on education and stop students from matriculating in elementary or middle school based on failure of the student on tests or projects or both. Is this elitist? I think it is more practical than that. We have drifted away from teaching our children about the value of work and the value of vocational and technical careers. Our schools focus more on academic tracks and subjects; could there be diversification in education? It always surprises me that we note that there is no one right way to learn, so we teach our students to one right test.
Kelly Shaw (not verified)

For middle school students

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For middle school students to achieve there needs to be both a transition from elementary school and a transition to high school. If there was a specific plan for sixth graders different from seventh graders and still different from eighth graders that focused on skills, behaviors, responsibilities and desires then kids would be more ready for the next phase.
Patricia O'Donnell (not verified)

If we fold students into

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If we fold students into elementary or high schools, grade six should stay in elementary school. Grade seven seems to be the hardest transitional year even in middle school and grade eight is definately more ready for highschool. One of my recommendations would be to keep sixth grade in elementary school and only have seventh and eighth grade in their own school or in the highschool but separated from the older students. Remember seventh graders are typically 12 years old.
Vickie J Welch (not verified)

As a veteran of the public

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As a veteran of the public school system - at all levels - with 27 years, I really do think that all 6th grades should be placed at the elementary level. In most buildings where 6th - 8th grades are placed together, great effort is taken to keep the 6th graders 'segregated' from 7th and 8th graders. Even though today, many 6th graders have the 'body size' of older students, their mental and social developments, even for those in 'highly capable' (my District's 'label' for the 'gifted' which still excludes many) classes are not where they should be. In deep thought - - I have often asked myself 'why' was the middle school concept 'railroaded' into the American education system? My personal opinion - BIG BUCKS - is the bottom line behind, in front of, in between, up/down and in every way - UNSOUND! Oh, well! What do I know? I'm just a classroom teacher!
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