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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.
So, how can we make sure we reaching our students? There has been so much written about social-emotional learning, and how effective those strategies are in reaching students and making content relevant.
However, it can feel forced, and yet another 'thing to accompllsh' in a day.
One of the easiest strategies might be just to do the 'tried and true':
First, listen---the acfive listening kind.
Then, truly look in your students' eyes---the kind of eye contact that shows you're paying attention.
Two very powerful tools you have with you at all times.
*excerpts for the post were taken and adapted from http://jteennews.wordpress.com ,
Photo credit: License, Free-use, creative commons.