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April 26, 2018

Advice for Teachers from a Middle School Student

My middle school aged son, Garrett, (not pictured above) is not a huge fan of school which is a struggle since he has an educator for a mother (that’s me!). He gets average to above average grades, but when I ask, he claims he hasn’t learned a thing. He says school is boring! So, I wondered, what advice would he give teachers to make school better.  

Check outhis responses, and note,like most teenage boys, he was not very thoroughor overly compelling, so I’ve added some tipsto help you apply the information!

Round One(Visualize a semi-helpful, interested look on his face as I asked him to help me with a work project.)

Mom (that’s me):What do you dislike about school?

Garrett (that’s him):The amount of time I have to spend in a chair listening to teachers talk about things I most likely will not need for future purposes.

Mom:What would you do differently if you were the teacher?

Garrett:A teacher probably just can’t change the course, but you could find activities on websites or from teachers to make it a better lesson. Keep the students engaged. If you see them daydreaming, you could ask them a question about the lesson or prompt them to stay focused. Make sure your lessons are entertaining and not boring.

Educator (also me) Interpretation:There are a few important pieces of information in his responses. First, sitting in a chair is not conducive to learning for many middle school aged students or for many students…period! Second, they want their learning to be purposeful. We, as teachers, must connect content to real life, their future, or their interests! Finally, students typically understand that teachers have material that must be covered. They also know that we can make these lessons more engaging and interesting if we use the tools around us like technology and colleagues!They set high expectations for us!

Resources for applying Garrett’s recommendations:



High Engagement Strategies

Round Two (Imagine a look of “Am I done yet?!” on his face.)

Mom:Whatelsedo you dislike about school?

Garrett:Our class websites andagendas are not kept up to date, and we are expected to use them as a reference to build our responsibility, but if they aren’t up to date, that is hard to do.

Mom:What would you do differentlyif you were the teacher?

Garrett:Either tell the kids in class when assignments are due or send an email to students.

Educator Interpretation:If we are teaching themto be responsible and use specificresources, we must ensure the information we are asking them to rely on is up to date!They expect us to be prepared and organized.

Resources for applying Garrett’s recommendations:


Round Three(Envision complete boredom…this is no longer fun for him.)

Mom:Whatis one more thingyou dislike about school?

Garrett:Our school days are seven hours long. There should be more time for lunch and recess. On days I don’t have Phy Ed, I have academic classes all day long (4 blocks) with only two-minute breaks.

Mom:What would you do differentlyif you were the teacher?

Garrett:I would give my students at least a four-minute break. If I see that my students are dozing off, I would have them stand and stretch. I would also try to complete lessons quickly to provide activity at the end of a class period. It would be good to do some activity at the beginning as well to get them ready.

Educator Interpretation:Again, theymustmove!And don’t let these older kids fool you, they enjoy silly games and adventures (sometimes!)

Resources for applying Garrett’s recommendations:

More Movement

I hope these insights and resources are helpful to you as you attempt to continually improve your practice and meet the needs of your learners. And thanks, Garrett, for taking the time to answer these questions! Your mom appreciates it!

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