Brains are weird and amazing things!

For those of us who aren’t health teachers, perhaps there are some things that we tend to forget about our young charges and their brains. Recently the health teachers have had the distinct and utter pleasure of working with our kids in units about puberty, drugs and alcohol, and sex ed among others. The sex ed and drugs/alcohol discussions are offered for our seventh and eighth graders but it’s the sixth graders that I think really pose the most interesting study in the middle school age group. We’ve all seen the wide range within our current sixth grade class; it seems even broader than in years past. I think the puberty unit can be a good reminder for a lot of us; these kids are still very young in both maturity and developmental levels.
So what does this mean for us as educators? Well, I would suggest that as teachers, who are responsible for over 100 students in the course of a two-day cycle, that we have a responsibility to constantly keep one important fact in mind: A lot of our middle school students, especially the younger boys, are still developing many of the crucial brain functions that will allow them to be successful as they grow older. I could write on this all day but to be honest you should take the next few minutes and check out this article from the American Psychological Association (APA)…it’s a great reminder of the challenge we face teaching middle schoolers!! (At least check out page one and two, they are brilliant!) And, just in case you don’t want to follow my advice and click the link, then you should at least see this quote…these aren’t just my two cents today, this is some powerful stuff 🙂
“Just because you have a classroom full of students who are about the same age doesn’t mean they are equally ready to learn a particular topic, concept, skill or idea. It is important for teachers and parents to understand that maturation of the brain influences learning readiness. For teachers, this is especially important when designing lessons and selecting which strategies to use.”

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