February 9, 2017
If I were to describe the school year as days of the week, I would assert that February to March is Wednesday. Students navigate the halls with ease. Sixth graders, once timid, find their way to class filled with confidence. Seventh graders that entered school with confidence eagerly anticipate 8th grade and all that comes with being the oldest and wisest. Eighth graders defined by confidence as they embarked on their final year of middle school now look with anticipation toward high school.
Yet, like Wednesday, February to March mean routine. Routine, while stabilizing and comforting, often means mundane. Mundane and middle school, when used together, serve as polar opposites. Middle schoolers personify energy, excitement, and enthusiasm. Mundane only serves to hinder energy and stifle enthusiasm. Nothing compares to the buzz of a middle school hallway during passing period. February tends to reduce the buzz. The mundane demand of classes, homework, and studies often changes the buzz to noise.
February, like Wednesday, sometimes feels like forever. Have you ever said, “If I could just make it to Wednesday, then…?” Spring Break hides in the distance. As I walk the halls during passing periods and navigate my way in and out of classrooms, I see students “making it to Wednesday.” I hear 7th-grade students analyze when and why they would have sold stock during the great depression. I listen to 8th graders connect the Mending Wall to blocking people on social media and the walls that creates. I watch 6th graders facilitate group discussions and work together to annotate literature.
While they successfully complete learning objectives in class, they still face the mundane of the Wednesday that is February. While routine can be mundane, it also provides stability and comfort. Reaching the other side of February requires a routine. I would encourage weekly meetings on Sunday night. Check Infinite Campus. Track grades. List missing assignments. Create a plan to complete and submit missing assignments. This routine will allow students to navigate their way to the other side of “Wednesday.”
Honored to Serve You All,
Food for Thought: Consider starting a “Safe Place” Journal. When we began the journey of parenting a middle schooler, I desperately desired to be among the influencing voices in Maddy’s life. Yet, I also knew that given her age, she would naturally begin the journey of finding new voices. This is normal, natural, and healthy. I contemplated ways that I could still have a path to her heart-hence the “Safe Place” Journal.
Here is how our journal worked. Maddy or I could initiate an entry. We could address questions, concerns, observations, or anything else that we wanted to discuss privately. Which ever one of us initiated the communication, would place the journal under the pillow of the other before bed. We agreed that the other individual would respond within 2 days to the entry. We NEVER discussed anything in journal out loud. It was private. It was a Safe Place. We never broke the rules. Ever. I knew if we did, we would lose the benefit of the journal.
The journal allowed me to remain a key voice of influence. It allowed Maddy a safe place for answers without fear of judgment, retribution, consequence, or humiliation. It reduced our frustration and conflict with each other. It strengthened our relationship.
I encourage you to consider this idea. Take a day. Go to Starbucks. Present the idea to your son or daughter. Go to a store and pick out a journal together. We kept the journal through high school. Words cannot express the value of the journal.