Creating Relationships, Rigor, and Relevance to Teach My Students

760 Words 4 Pages
“Do you like cake or pie?” Food questions are among the most common I am asked by my 6th grade students during our Thursday, Ask the Expert, warm-up activity. Each week I plunge my hand deep into the bucket of anonymous questions, and somehow I seem to pull out a slip of paper with this type of topic scribbled on it. “Neither,” I share. This, of course, leads to a roar of disappointment and surprise, which undoubtedly transforms into ten-plus follow up questions. While their reactions exemplify the beauty and humor of teaching middle school students, I revel in the spontaneous spark of inquiry dominoing off of one simple answer. My answers lead to their questions, their questions lead to their stories, and ultimately their stories, and mine, lead into a relationship. I use these relationships to thoughtfully create relevant and rigorous learning experiences that engage my students within their curriculum. These three R’s are the foundation upon which I build my own professional development, but they also help me to begin the reinvention of the conventional classroom.

Middle school students are in a constant state of change. Bodies, brains, and buddies--they are all swiftly changing. At times, students come to school full of hugs while other days they are filled with striking fists. The ability to form relationships with these seemingly bipolar beings has never been a more important aspect of education. In my classroom I have implemented a strategy called Capturing Kids’…