classroom expectations, classroom management, students

You Know Those Kids in 5th, They Become Those Kids in 6th…

My 5th grade team met with some of the 6th grade team at the middle school, one of those rare occurrences where everyone’s schedule just meshes and you finally get to sit down and discuss expectations.  Hallelujah!  While the whole meeting was a gem to be a part of, one thing that struck me was that the kids who are struggling in elementary are the kids that end up struggling in middle school.  Simple conclusion, yes, but think about the impact of that…

Those kids who have problems handing in work, or don’t know how to ask for help, or who sit back and wait for someone else to figure it out, they keep doing it in middle school.  Those kids who don’t show up to school, or show up with half of their things, who seem unaffected when we ask where their work is, or why they didn’t finish something.  Who horse around, who get in trouble at the blink of an eye, those kids that the whole school seems to know.  Sure ,those kids come to us like that in 5th, much like they came to their teachers in 4th the same way, and yet I wonder; what are we doing to change their habits?

The age old system of losing recess, docking points for late assignments, a stern talking to, parent phone calls, and drill and kill don’t seem to be putting these kids on a different path.  Neither does compassion and community, showing that you care and giving them extra time.  We don’t seem to be having many eureka moments.  So what can we change?  How can we intervene differently?  How can we stop the cycle?  That’s what I left wondering after today.

4 thoughts on “You Know Those Kids in 5th, They Become Those Kids in 6th…”

  1. P…I often wonder the same thing. I think as teachers we just need to have and express our continued faith that our students are capable of achieving whatever they want in life. Sometimes it's just a matter of time.This year was the first year that I had a group of my former high school student graduate from college and get into the "real world." One of them, who I didn't even think would pass 10th grade, is doing really well now. He said that he knew he was a pain in the neck, but what made the difference for him, was that his teachers never gave up on him.

  2. Maybe we can't break it. Their time to "get it together" may not be during the time we have them. I speak from experience, having almost flunked out of high school because I did not care not because I was not capable. My cycle started early middle school and did not break until my 5th, yes 5th year of college. Something happened and I became a 4.0 student, went on to graduate school and am now what you'd call successful in the "real world". I think the best we can do is love our children unconditionally and let go of the outcomes.

  3. I really appreciate both your post and the comments. This year I have an unusual mix of kids in my 4th grade class and I am stunned by how many of them just don't care. I have never had a class like this before. I just keep doing what I do, pushing them, nudging them, urging them on. I refuse to lower my expectations and I keep letting them know how capable they are. Maybe the change won't come this year or next or even the year after that, but I won't be the one to give up on them.

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