Striking a Balance with Students in Their Middle School Years
Today, let’s talk striking a balance with students in their middle school years. Middle School…near and dear to my heart. They can change on you in a split second and I love it!
My reasons for liking middle school
I always thought I’d teach high school. Instead, I spent most of my career teaching middle school kids. When I was in college we didn’t have middle schools yet. They were created about ten years later.
I must say I think middle school is a brilliant idea. I taught for the Columbia Public Schools in Columbia, Missouri and their middle schools were sixth and seventh grades.
Our building was HUGE! It was to hold 600 and we were bursting at the seams with nearly l,000. There were “temporary classroom” A.K.A. mobile trailers on three sides of the building.
I did the bulk of my speech communications teaching in Colorado, however. I worked in a very unusual home school enrichment program. It too, was bursting at the seams. I understand the program is so popular now, they are about have their own building and not lead the Nomad life anymore. That’s super! They so deserve it.
Striking a Balance with Middle School Students
I find teachers either ask too much or too little of middle grade students. Sometimes I had this challenge while teaching them. It’s a hard balance to maintain. and an easy mistake to make. Kids between the ages of eleven and fourteen change dramatically. Just look at this young girl.
She’s probably a young sixth grader. She wants so desperately to look grown up with her cute hat and spaghetti strap tank. You know what gives her age away? Her hair in braids.
Let’s take a speech class–either the teacher expects the students to make an outline, note cards and maybe even a power point or they expect the kids to just stand and make up the speech as they go along.
I taught for thirty-eight years and in that time, I perfected a simple but grade level appropriate rubric for speech making. It would be suitable for middle school students.
Although, this particular rubric was created for a special occasion speech, but it could easily be used for other types of speeches with a little tweaking.
I hope you’ll check it out at: rubric for special occasion speech
Why do our students need to make speeches?
I was perusing the internet to find some interesting information about speech making and ran on to this website, http://www.geraldgillis.com. What I appreciate about Mr. Gillis’ post is that this was written by a lay person and not some fancy-dancy speech maker, you know?
Importance of Speaking Skills
Here is his post, The Importance of Speaking Skills
“Ability to inform, persuade, and direct. Business managers, educators, military leaders, lawyers, and politicians, among others, seek to develop their speaking skills to such a level that they are transformed into master communicators. Speaking clearly and confidently can gain the attention of an audience, providing the golden opportunity for the speaker to make the message known. Wise is the speaker who gains and then holds the attention of an audience, with well-chosen words in a well-delivered presentation, forming a message that is effective, informative, and understood.
• Ability to stand out from the rest. When one thinks of speaking skills, one tends to think of it as a common skill. Think again. The ability to stand before others and speak effectively is not an ordinary ability. Many people are deathly afraid of public speaking; others have little ability to form thoughts into sentences and then deliver those words in a believable way. The bad news is that at any given moment the world has precious few with the speaking talents of, say, Winston Churchill or John F. Kennedy. The good news is that a speaker whose skills are honed and developed with constant application and hard work can stand out.
• Ability to benefit derivatively. Well-developed verbal skills can increase one’s negotiation skills. Self-confidence is improved. A growing sense of comfort comes from speaking in front of larger and larger audiences. A reputation for excellence in speaking can accrue over time, thereby imparting a certain credibility to the speaker.
• Career enhancement. Employers have always valued the ability to speak well. It is, and always will be, an important skill, and well worth the effort in fully developing.
Speaking skills are important for career success, but certainly not limited to one’s professional aspirations. Speaking skills can enhance one’s personal life, thereby bringing about the well-rounded growth we should all seek.”
What experiences have you had with middle school students? I bet they are interesting. I’d love to hear about them.
Here’s a tool which could come in handy most any day. Conversation Starters
Here is a blog post about differentiation which could help you: Three Lessons to Engage Your Drama Class Using Differentiation
Comment on your most awkward moment at school. I’d love to know. Contact me at email@example.com or DeborahBaldwin.net