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January 31, 2018

I’m Back! With Some Together Middle Schoolers!

Ahem, ahem. . . Are you guys out there?

Or maybe you’re wondering if I fell off the face of the earth myself?

It’s been A MONTH—In both good ways (travel and trainings) and less predictable ones (five disrupted school days due to snow “events” and my daughter had a hard-to-solve illness, but she’s fine now, phew!). Translation: Lots and lots of re-prioritizing, shuffling, shifting, and lowering of one’s standards – as one does.

But anyway, I’m back!

Last week, I had the privilege of sitting down with the 7th and 8th Grade Student Ambassadors for Great Oaks Charter School in Newark talk about. . . why, Togetherness, of course! While it was super fun to dig into their planners, backpacks, folders, and clipboards, what I was most struck by was their self-awareness.

Here’s me with one of the ambassadors (who kept art supplies in a special pocket in his backpack for free time!).

While I think teaching Togetherness is super important, these students also have a few other things going on that help them be so awesome.

  • Delaying gratification and/or rewards. Several of the students talked about taking a limited amount of TV or screen time after school and then doing homework. Many specifically named how long they allowed themselves to “play” before getting to work.
  • Hiding or removing phones. All cited their smartphones as huge distractions when doing homework. Most realized they just had to put them away.
  • Keeping aware of energy levels. They know that getting enough sleep is very important, and all started their homework in time to get to bed at a reasonable hour.
  • Determining the right environment. Most of the students I talked with said they tried to get as much homework finished during extra minutes of time during the school day. All of them said they retreated to quiet-ish places in their homes to complete their work, which often required negotiating shared space with siblings.
  • Fueling their bodies. Many of the students also participated on athletic teams, and they all talked about the importance of ensuring they had full and healthy meals and good snacks.

And of course, I spotted some carefully organized student backpacks! This student loved her (cute) clipboard. Me too!

All of this is basically the middle-school version of what I wrote about here. While teacher instruction on how to use planners and map assignments is as important as ever, we can also help our students by teaching them to track their energy levels, plan their physical space, and structure their evenings – and not just the time spent on homework!

I’m curious . . . Has anyone tried anything like this? If so, email me here!

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