P2 News

Simple Practice for Middle School Students

By Frank Adamo

Welcome back, P2 Middle School Teachers! I hope that everyone had a nice and relaxing summer, and you’re back and ready for another incredible year with your students. I’m beginning my 19th year as a middle school English teacher, and I’m really excited to start back this week. 

In my prep to get back in the swing of things, I came across an interesting article on Edutopia written by Laura Lee. And, I think using the study’s simple technique of having first-year middle school students write about their potential stressors and fears related to the transition to middle school could be really useful for you.

Lee identifies a study that was conducted by Jeffrey Borman from the University of Wisconsin. The study makes note of the use of using reflective journals (which P2 is a big fan of) to pre-identify areas that former 6th graders identified as particularly frustrating or stressful. 

One of the statements that Lee identifies is, “Almost all 7th graders said they had worried at first that they did not ‘fit in’ or ‘belong’ at the beginning of 6th grade, but almost all 7th graders say that they now know that they ‘fit in’ and ‘belong.’”

Students were then asked to spend time (about 15 minutes) identifying why a 6th grade student might feel that way.  

As Lee explains, “The materials also included individual anecdotes and quotes from prior students about their test fears, social anxieties, and relationships with teachers—all in an effort to show incoming students that their challenges were normal and surmountable.” All of those anecdotes and quotes are available on Lee’s Edutopia guest-post. 

So many teachers across the country spend time at the beginning of the year sharing quotes and thoughts from former students about “success is ‘x’ grade” — and I was really happy to see that this study helped to acknowledge those concerns while also providing students with the space to think and write through potential ways to address those concerns so early in the year. 

As I write this, I just opened the welcome back letter from my son’s 2nd grade teacher. She included in her letter notes from former 2nd graders telling them about all their favorite experiences. 

So often, the transition to middle school (whether it’s 5th, 6th, or 7th grade) is accompanied by so many “fears” that are systematically dispelled by the amazing work that you all do with your students every day. I thought that this might be a great way to include some of those reservations in your welcome back routine as students wrestle with middle school schedules, locker combinations, and changing for Phys Ed.

As you begin this school year introducing students to the Other People Matter Mindset, I thought it might be a great time to help them consider just how much their perspective can change over a short period of time.  Bowman’s study suggests that acknowledging that shift might help students as they transition to middle school.  

We hope you have a great time as you meet and get to know your new students, and we’re looking forward to another awesome year at the middle level with The Positivity Project. 

Frank Adamo
Ed. Tech Coordinator

Frank Adamo is The Positivity Project's Ed. Tech Coordinator. He is also an 8th grade English teacher in Niskayuna, NY. Frank is passionate about maximizing technology's impact in the classroom. He regularly works with parents, students, teachers and administrators on the benefits of using technology in the classroom as well as the opportunities and drawbacks of social media in the digital age.