George Lucas Educational Foundation

7th Grade Slump

7th Grade Slump

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I'm sure there are others who have experienced the "7th Grade Slump" where students loose their minds during 7th grade. Students who have otherwise done well, had no behavioral problems, and were a joy to teach suddenly turn into their evil twin! We see it year after year in our school. We often joke about how we couldn't "stand" a student in the 7th grade only to absolutely love them in the 8th! I'd love to hear other people's experience with this and what they did to help these little "evolving" beings along in their growth!

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Heather Wolpert-Gawron's picture
Heather Wolpert-Gawron
ELA Teacher, Middle School, Curriculum Coordinator TOSA

I think that this phenomena (occurring hand in hand with the "8th grade conceit") is a symptom of their middle school development. And it all boils down to identity. Bh now, 7th graders are ready for the 8th grade to step aside. They want to be the head-honchos. They are over this 7th grade thing and think they can handle the next step.

So I say this is a great opportunity to promote more student choice in the 7th grade classroom, more leadership chances, and perhaps some peer helper programs. Give 7th graders the chance to strut their stuff, release the reins of authority a little and see if they can handle it.

Remember what it felt like to grow a foot overnight? Tween years are a painful metamorphosis. It's when I started cracking my knuckles. I figure their brains must be going through the same cracking. So it's up to us to release some of that pressure with some different strategies that acknowledge their growth.

Hope this helps. I feel your pain, fellow middle school teacher Erika!

-Heather WG

Caryn Williamson's picture

I liked your ideas for dealing with 7th graders. You are so right. For the first time this year, I totally allowed my students to choose their books for literature circles and they did a great job. The literature circles went very well because the students really talked to one another about what they wanted to read and chose books that interested them. The students looked forward to reading every night and getting back together to discuss the story!

Erika Saunders's picture
Erika Saunders
6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

Thanks for the suggestions. I think our small learning community (6th - 8th grades) tries to give them freedom but, maybe, we are too quick to take it back when things get a little rough. I agree that we've got to give the kids a chance to stretch their wings a bit and find out who they are. They can just wreak such havoc while they're "finding themselves"!

I think we're just frustrated because things aren't seeming to work. And we're seeing behaviors escalate. I'm hopeful that we'll think of something, stick with it, and not get discouraged because we don't see an instant turn-around!

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