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Not Much Just Chillin; The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers

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Gabrielle Haefs

on 2 December 2016

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Transcript of Not Much Just Chillin; The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers

Not Much Just Chillin': The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers

Chapter 13
"not much just chillin'"
Chapter 19
Chapter One
Chapter 7
This chapter discussed young adolescents starting to discover romance and relationships- developing “crushes” in other words. Relationships at this stage consist of a middle man who asks a girl out for the boy. Couples rarely, if ever, spend alone time together. The physical aspect of romantic relationships become intriguing and both genders are learning the new norms of how to interact with each other in this sense. Boys tend to struggle more with the social aspect of relationships than girls and don't spend much time dwelling on "love,” whereas young girls are much more focused on the opposite gender. As a teacher, it is important to keep this stage in their development in mind. Teachers should keep in mind that they need to model what healthy relationships/friendships should look like.


Chapter 15
"i'm not that curious anymore"
Chapter 16
"i love you more than words can say"
This chapter discusses the issues of teasing and rejection. It is explicitly stated that there's a difference between rejection and humiliation, and middle schoolers often have a difficult time grasping that concept. Teasing happens a lot during these years. Teasing comes in various degrees, and while some times it is innocent, other times it can be very harmful even if the student thinks “they’re just joking around.” Most bullying at this age isn’t physical, and if it is it most often occurs among the males. The most prevalent form of bullying in middle school is done through social exclusion. For teachers, this subtle form of bullying can be hard to detect. Teachers must have it clear at the beginning of the year that bullying, in any form, is not acceptable in or out of the classroom. Getting to know your students on a personal level can make detecting bullying easier whereas students will be more apt to open up about it.


By: Gabby Haefs
Dillon Kuhbacher
Gretchen Weir
Stefanie Witman
"i can't believe the day's almost over"
In chapter one, we are introduced to Eric Ellis and Lily, two middle school students at Wilde Lake Middle School. We learn from Lily's personality that split personalities are common in adolescents and, as future educators, we need to be aware of this. Some students might act differently at home then they do in school; by providing a comfortable and safe environment right away, those students might feel more comfortable.

We learn from Eric Ellis, an 8th grader, that ambivalence is prevalent in the 8th grade. Educators need to keep these students, who are ready to leave to go to high school, engaged and doing things that they enjoy in the classroom.

On the first day of school, often times teachers go through classroom goals and rules to begin the school year. These rules are crucial to have good classroom management, but for the students who are already aware of the fact that they always have to raise their hand when they are to speak, it is a boring waste of time. It is good to not overwhelm students on the first day of class with goals and expectations. I thought the idea of letting the students set expectations for the teacher, as Eric's "cool" English teacher did, is a great idea to engage the students and give them the initial feeling that their opinion in this class matters.
Chapter Two
"everyone else thinks it's a stupid plane crash"
Chapter 14
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
This chapter was my favorite in the book. The 9/11 terrorist attack has taken place during a school day and the principal decides to keep the students oblivious to the tragedy. Parents begin to come get their children and take them home early, so a teacher addresses the situation by announcing what has happened in the lunch room. The principal and the teachers handled the situation very well in my opinion, they remained calm and that kept the children in a safe setting. When issues come up in school, such as a possible lock down or other issue, it is our duty as teachers to remain calm and think of the students first.

The principal and the teachers remained calm and did what all middle school teachers should do and that is to put the children first. They protected the students from the pain and scariness of the situation and when the students returned to school, the teachers made it seem as if they were apart of a historical event. They also made it clear to make sure that no Muslim student received any negative comments, which is again putting the students first. Mrs. Conroy allowed the students to ask questions and tried to do her best to answer and that is something that students need is teacher support and safety.
Chapter Three
"any girl will obsess over at least 1 guy in their life"
In chapter three, we learn all about just how selfish minded adolescents are and how clouded their minds are with thoughts about friends, the opposite sex, and how often they aren't thinking about classwork. "For most children, middle school is a time when the hormones bubble, when boys and girls notice each other that way." We also learn that for the most part, romantic relationships in middle school, exalts boys and girls popularity status'.

Educators need to be aware of this changing state of boys and girls and be able to understand how much these changing hormones are affecting their thinking. Because of this constant need to socialize, I think that it is crucial for teachers to maintain control of their classrooms and establish that the time to talk to friends or significant others is outside of the classroom.
The last two months of the school year, fights begin to break out, friendships fall through, and people start taking sides. Because this time can be very emotional and confusing for students, as a teacher you need to make sure your classroom is a safe place where all students feel welcome. When drama does begin to break out, you need to be the middle ground for students and not side with one over the other.
Chapter 20
Chapter Four
"stop! don't touch! get out!
Chapter 10
At this point of time in their lives, students are starting to develop crushes and are becoming more aware of their bodies. The students become more sexually aware of what is going on around them as they are exposed to things. As a teacher, when you see things like this happening, you need to stop it and talk to the students about the decisions they are choosing to make.
Chapter Ten illustrated the changing brains of middle schoolers. Students this age are active learners and still have an honest curiosity about the world around them. At this stage in their development, they are able to think critically and creatively which takes their learning to a deeper level. Middle school educations should set high expectations for their students and stick to them. If the content and materials are relevant to the lives of the students, young adolescents will stay interested and engaged. It’s also important for teachers to remember that the home lives of students affect how they learn and perform in school. With that being said, teachers must make sure their students feel like they are cared for not only as students, but as people as well. Developing that positive caring relationship will help students succeed in the classroom.

Chapter 21
Chapter 8
Chapter Eight speaks to the important relationship between middle schoolers and parents. While some parents might take their child’s “uninterested” attitude as a rejection of their relationship, it should be viewed as a reorganization of the relationship. Kids this age want more independence, not to be left completely alone. While they might not outwardly show this, middle schoolers want to be told no and given boundaries. They might push the limits and backlash at first; they will eventually drift back to their parents. Teachers need to keep this reorganized relationship in mind when communicating with parents. Parents are an essential part of a child’s education so it’s important for them to understand what is going on with their child, both in their education and developmentally. Teachers need to make sure that parents are up to date in their child’s progress and feel welcome in the classroom since the students might not be talking to their parents about what is going on at school.
At this age the students are beginning to learn how to handle their emotions. At such a difficult time, as a teacher it is important that you are there for your students and help guide them through a difficult time in their life so that they don't get "lost." There can also be alot more going on with a student than what meets the eye, so it is important to get to know your students to understand where they are coming from.
Chapter 9
Chapter 22
In chapter four, the parent viewpoint of the changing middle school student is touched on. The young girl who used to tell her parents every feeling and everything that happened at school that day has now become a quiet, reserved, and private middle school student. As teachers, communicating with the parents of our students during this time in their lives is crucial because often the students wont share details about the classroom. Teachers should have conferences with parents as well as send class notes or notes to parents directly to the parent. "The preteen mind is weak on logic, very selective on memory."

A lot of times, adolescents are craving independence at this stage and parent figures often times make them feel as is they are hindering that independence. The best thing parents can do is just support their child and continue to show them they care.
Chapter Five
"i'm scary enough as it is"
Chapter 11
This chapter touched on how students pick their friends. At this age, peer groups are constantly changing due to the switch from the classmates in elementary school to middle school. Race is one source of attraction to peer groups, as well as income and other differences. Kids seek out other kids who they can identify with on these basic levels. Teachers should be aware of the constant changing friend groups. Students who claim to be best friends one day can be found ignoring each other completely the next. Teachers should be examples of what healthy friendships look like.
Chapter 12
Chapter Twelve spoke to the emotional aspect of middle school. Kids this age "wear their hearts on their sleeve." That being said, they carry their emotions and feelings from all different aspects of their day with them, unable to forget and move on to focus on the new task at hand. They are still learning to develop positive relationships with adults at this stage as well. They are searching for adults to listen to them about how they think and feel and understand their point of view, rather than an adult who speaks at them and tells them what to do. Teachers in the middle school shouldn’t take what their students say about them or their misbehavior personally. Because students are still developing their ability to process many different emotions, most of the time an incident in class has nothing to do with the actual lesson, but rather something else had happened outside class that the student is still dwelling on. It’s also important for teachers to hear what their students are saying when talking instead of dismissing them as just kids. By showing empathy to these young students, respectful and healthy relationships between students and teachers can flourish.
Not only are the students changing socially with friends and parents, but their bodies are also changing. I think that teachers should inform their students of these changes and stress the importance of deodorant and treating your body well by keeping it clean. In the book, Jimmy is a changing boy that is trying to deal with his rapidly growing awkward body. Teachers need to be aware that each adolescent is going through changes that require education on topics like healthy eating as well as hygiene.

It's also important for teachers to stress to their students to get a good nights rest. "Experts have found that for preteens a good night of sleep doesn't just help the next day's learning but reinforces the previous day's lessons, and they recommend nine hours." These facts are important for the students and parents to be aware of.
Chapter Six
"there's always next quarter"
This chapter discusses how students take interest in their homework. As teachers, we may not be able to fit the needs and interests of all of our students but we should design our lessons around what its going to be intriguing to them. When students are interested in what they are learning, they will be more motivated to learn and dig deeper into the information. It is important that students practice their learning, but the homework they are receiving should not take alot of time if you want it to be effective.
Chapter 23
Students are very curious at this age so they begin testing things out, even if they have been told that these things are bad for them. Students are experimenting, and that is okay and students need to know that is okay but as a teacher you need to know when to step in and help a student.
Chapter 24
This Chapter is called "There's nothing to be scared Of," because it sums up that at all middles schools are just looking to finish and move on to high school. They may become difficult and confusing at some points but they all come together as they all have the same common goal in mind.
"it's the jackie show!"
"sometimes i wanna say stuff, but i don't wanna say stuff"
"another survivor of the woods"
Chapter 13 discusses several ways which an ever-changing self-identity manifests itself at the preteen age. While the book cites instant messaging and personalized web pages as the linchpin of students' online presence, these have been replaced by social media and text messaging. Perlstein discusses how students begin to distinguish themselves from their parents and others through consumerism. New music groups, magazines, television channels, clothing, etc. become all the rage during middle school. In large part, growing up is about, "Creating a style" (Perlstein, 149).

This has several implications for educators. Most importantly, many students of this age crave autonomy and independence. With this, kids need to feel as though they are respected and valued as an individual. Making an extra effort to engage with students enough to create meaningful relationships can help them understand that they have agency and worth. Encouraging middle schoolers to create a style that is healthy is also important. This can be done through modeling and letting students have some basic freedoms in the classroom ( such as listening to their own music).
This chapter focuses on Jackie as she attempts to fashion her identity around becoming the person she wants to be. Everything from her values, lifestyle, hobbies, and wardrobe come into question. Consequently, during chapter 14, a large emphasis is placed on how quickly fixations and obsessions can change for middle schoolers. One moment kids are focused on crushes, and the next they are having existential crises.

There are a few ways that teachers and administrators can help students going through these struggles. One such idea is that teachers can provide students with a steady, positive role model in themselves. This helps with behavioral issues and provides structure for the sometimes chaotic world of middle school. Another way for educators to support students is to have an "open-door policy," where students are always welcome to stop by and have a discussion with teachers at appropriate times.
Throughout chapter 15, Jimmy personifies some of the traits commonly associated with the typical teenager: uninterested, hormonal, a lack of self-control, rebellious. Jimmy is having a hard time understanding why he's less curious than he used to be, a common trait for teenagers. It is much harder for him to find interest in nearly everything (except video games). Jimmy finds himself spacing out at school, his thoughts wandering towards more enticing distractions. He procrastinates more often, especially when he is supposed to be doing homework.

There are several issues at hand highlighted by Jimmy's behavior. Teachers are seemingly always attempting to keep their lessons interesting and hounding students to do their work. To combat disinterest, teachers can potentially give students more choices in their work. Allowing kids to choose research topics, formats, partners, etc. keeps them more interested because they are more involved in deciding what needs done. Using a wide variety of learning strategies and instructional methods also helps keep pedagogy interesting, which can help decrease procrastination.


For such an extremely short chapter, 16 covers some major themes that teachers should remain aware of. Perlstein hits on daughter-parent relationships and their importance through a rocky time of a child's life. During her Bat Mitzvah, Elizabeth proclaims that she loves her parents more than words can say.

Parents have such a huge impact on their children. This is why it is important for teachers to remember that their students are someone else's children. By involving parents in their kids' education, teachers can get the best results and behavior out of middle schoolers. Sometimes an unexpected phone call to a student's parent/guardian, whether to check in or inform them of a positive achievement their child has accomplished, can go a long way.
At this point of the book, Eric is dealing with "fitting in." This is a common concern for middle schoolers, as is trying to be cool, belonging, and popularity. After getting some poor grades on his report card, Eric's brother helps him with homework every night to explain why answers are wrong and right. Eric thinks that it is nice to have someone to help him that cares.

Teachers can only do so much to alter the atmosphere of a middle school; one that is often dominated by cliques and popularity. However, teachers, through building solid relationships with students, can encourage students to talk to them if they ever feel like they need guidance. Being this "someone that cares" can affect someone's life in many ways.
Chapter 18 touches on a few major topics: evolving friendships, teasing, discovering one's talents, fitting in, sudden changes, and parent-child relationships to name a few. The story follows the students as they partake in a school camping trip, showing the differences between the boys and the girls.

To this point, teachers should always be aware of differences between the sexes. While every student is different, educators must consider different approaches for everything from disciplining to teaching students. Sometimes to pique their interests and encourage better behavior, boys need to move and be active in learning. Girls, and many times boys as well, benefit from limited amounts of socializing. As a teacher, allowing students the first five minutes of every class period to settle in and socialize, amongst themselves and with the teacher, can help them focus for the remainder of class.
Middle school students have very short attention spans and often need a change of scenery or movement in order to perform well. Eric Ellis constantly had to tap his pencil or move just to think clear. As teachers, we will need to change up our activities and lessons to engage each student and keep their brains moving. The part of the brain that is devoted to organizational skills isnt fully developed at this time, so middle school students are often unorganized and messy. Educators need to set a standard for organization in the classroom right away in order to keep the classroom under control. We also need to make sure that they keep their homework and handouts organized. It is a good idea to send notes to parents or emails to inform them of any handouts or homework so children can stay on top of their schoolwork.

Teachers often have no idea what a students home life is like, so we need to be aware that any life changes might alter how a student performs in the classroom. Frequent meetings with parents or students will show the student that you care as an educator and want to help/support them.
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