When the United States launched airstrikes that killed General Qasem Soleimani and others shortly before we returned to classes from winter break, I was pretty sure the students in my seventh grade Humanities class would want to talk about it. As I sifted through posts and articles, verifying facts, weighing opinions, I kept in mind these important precepts:
- My kids would want clarity. What were the facts of what had happened?
- My kids would want to feel safe. I can’t control world events, but I can help create a classroom atmosphere where my students could honestly say what they were thinking and feeling, knowing there would be things on which they’d all agree and other areas where they would have a range of opinions.
- My kids would want hope. Here, I often turn to Mr. Rogers’s famous dictum to “look to the helpers.” I’m also well aware that any concrete action kids can take can also be helpful.
- My kids would need the comfort of familiar routines.
Last night on Twitter, Sara Truebridge (author of Resilience Begins with Beliefs: Building on Student Strengths for Success in School) hosted a #ResilienceChat focused on giving thanks. As always, her questions are well thought-out, and I want to share them here in case y’all would enjoy thinking through your own answers:
Having polished off a delicious blue plate special at Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge, I set off back toward Harvard Square. While I was admittedly clutching my phone in my right hand as my arm swung back and forth, as I watched person after person coming toward me staring down at their phones or talking to an unseen interlocuteur, I realized I no longer felt I was missing out on something by focusing on my actual environment instead of my own phone, quickly and frequently opening it up to unlock it and see what was going on in social media world. I wasn’t particularly surprised. But it did make me think about my journey to this point.
The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) recently shared the article “Seven ways parents and educators can improve kids’ middle school experience” by Phyllis Fagell, the author of Middle School Matters. I immediately clicked on it, and found a series of thoughtful suggestions and examples, each of which in fact does relate well to our own middle school program. Her seven suggestions (in boldface), and a few examples of how they have been playing out in our school:
Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School,
Middle Level Education,
Today is the annual Day of Silence, sponsored by GLSEN. Some of the students in our Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) are choosing to participate, maintaining silence throughout the class day to call attention to the figurative silence of the closet in which many LGBTQ+ people live, whether wholly or partially. Following GLSEN guidelines, teachers have been asked to support the kids, bending where possible to allow them to maintain their silence in the classroom (for example, writing out answers to questions or doing board work) with the understanding we might also ask them to participate vocally in cases where that might genuinely be necessary. At the end of the day, the kids will gather for a three-minute long period of silence followed by a ritual (read: loud and joyful) breaking of the silence.
day of silence,
This page is meant to represent current thinking on the fundamentals of how we see gender and sexuality based on the writings of experts and the reported lived experiences of people of a diversity of gender and sexuality.
On October 26, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his speech “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?” to the students of Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia. You may view video footage of the speech taped by Rodges Lawton, a student in attendance, here, and a transcript follows, downloaded from yousubtitles.com and revised by Bill Ivey in comparison to the video. Additional suggestions are always welcome.
Martin Luther King Jr,
Forbes recently published an article by Frederick Hess entitled “Ten questions parents should ask before school starts.” Normally skeptical of articles that list whatever number of things people “should” do, I began to fall in love with his list at the first question, and by the third decided I wanted to answer them all. So, in order and writing as if I were speaking directly to a parent...
Middle Level Education,
I was the first to show up at today’s blood drive in my home town of Shelburne Falls. I sat patiently by the intake table checking my Twitter and Facebook feeds (and those of the school) on my phone as they finished getting everything ready to go. Ten or 15 minutes later, I was lying on a table listening as the donation specialist sang along to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” which was playing on the radio. I waited for the right moment to tell her that I taught Rock Band in my school, and the kids had chosen to do that song twice over the years, and she told me about her husband, “a real singer” in a metal band who was planning to participate in a benefit concert for suicide awareness this September. Moments later, “Titanium” came on the radio, and again we bonded as I told her about the time the middle school band was scheduled to do the song in a Winter Solstice Performance - and then Sandy Hook happened. We had to postpone that performance as everyone was just too raw and upset, but when the kids worked with my colleague Greg Snedeker and me to ready “Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber for performance with just one rehearsal, we pulled off what my colleague Karen Suchenski called “a Christmas miracle.” (see "Resolution" if you want to read more about this.)
Friday, May 18, 2018. All times Eastern time.