Start reading and commenting everyone :)
I started reading this book and just finished the first chapter, and just in the first chapter I found it to be very relatable to my own experiences with my brother. My brother is currently in eighth grade, so he is experiencing many of the things the book has talked about so far. I think one example that really stood out was on page 7, which said, "Soon you will discover that they no longer want to do all of those nice, neat family things you were so accustomed to over the earlier years." I have noticed this with my brother many times this summer, who has been opting to spend more and more time with his friends rather than family. This is particularly different for him because he always liked spending time with my parents or myself.
Really interesting point. I've noticed this a lot too with my little cousin. She is currently fifteen years old and I'm starting to notice a big drift from how our relationship was for the past four years and how it is now. My cousin and I used to hang out literally every single day, she would come to me for advice on different things, we would do everything together all of the time. I remember how amazing this felt because I knew that no matter what, at the end of the day, she would always look up to me and admire me. Recently, now that she is fifteen, I've noticed that a lot of the times I have asked her to hang out, she has been busy with her friends or unavailable. There have also been several times that she has canceled plans on me to go and hang out with her friends. I can totally relate to what you are saying, and also Garvin's frustration in the book regarding when his children start to become distant from him. It definitely is hard to accustom oneself to not having that sense of admiration and affection from a child when he or she starts to morph into a "frog."
I completely agree with what you have said because my sister is older now, but when she is in middle school she used to give my parents such a hard time when we were getting ready to go on a family vacation or do something together. She would always want to invite her friends to come with us because it would be boring without them. They are all about their friends at that age, and could care less about what their family is doing. I used to feel really bad when she acted like this because it really upset my parents.
The part of chapter one really related to my life as well. Growing up, I have had cousins 8 years older than me and 8 years younger than me. Family birthdays and BBQs are the norm for my huge family. When I was younger, I watched as my older cousins slowly but surely made less and less appearances at these events. Being younger, it always upset me but now that I am older, I am the one not going to these events. I used to be soo excited to see my family and my cousins and as time went on, hanging out with my friends became my #1 priority.
I can completely relate to what you are saying about your brother - I watched my brother go through the same thing. It was very strange because I'm older, so I went through the phase of not wanting to do things with him because I wanted to hang out with my friends but I hated when he stopped wanting to hang out with me! I still wanted him to try to be involved with my life but then he found his own life. We are very close now, but looking back on that time I can see how separated we were.
I totally agree with this thought. I think that the relationships are what make this time the most challenging and is the cause for much of the stress and emotions that both children and parents feel. I think that as teachers one way that we can help a particular family is to remind the parent that the child needs some space and as long as there are no signs of danger that they need to experience some freedom. We can also reassure the student if they feel comfortable with us that a parents job is to help and if they ever do want to talk there is always someone there including parents, teachers, cousins, siblings and professionals.
I couldn't agree with you more Jack. Every year my adolescent cousins come to stay with me for a week or two during the summer and it's just a time for us to catch up and enjoy time with one another since we don't get to do much of it during the year. However, recently it's so hard to keep them entertained or even get them to talk because they are so attached to their phones so that they can keep in contact with all their friends back home and stay up to date with social media. I'm starting to miss the days when we would stay up late just talking and filling in each other about our lives, and now I almost have to text them while they're sitting next to me in order to remind them that I'm still there and to talk to me face to face!
I come from a family with 12 cousins and so I definitely have noticed this over the years. Even for myself, I know that when my eldest cousin Caitlin (who is four years older than me) started middle school/high school, all I ever wanted to do was emulate her and do whatever it is that she was doing. My brother is the eldest male cousin of our group and it's astounding to see how many of the younger boys look up to him and want to hang out with him as well. Every year, our family used to go to the Poconos together and in the most recent years, the older cousins have stayed home to work while the younger, adolescent cousins have resorted to bringing friends along with them and spending all their time with their friends rather than their family.
Its funny, I am entering this stage with my 10 year old daughter. I remind her all the time that one day she will not want to do things with us and I am scheduling numerous activities for us over the next few years. lol
So far I have read up to the end of chapter 1, and as everyone else has said, I am really enjoying and relating to this book. I definitely can remember back to about 8 years ago when I was right in character with Garvin's young adolescent children. I lived in my room and spent as much time on the phone, on the computer or at my friends' houses. For no reason at all, I kept my daily after school conversations short and simple with my mother. Since she was a single mom, she was even more persistent and kind of over protective over my brother, my sister, and me, especially since coming from a divorced family was a rarity in my middle school. Anyway, I am excited to continue reading :)
Family dynamics are a very interesting point especially when talking about emotional changes that children are going through. I think that something such as coming from a divorced family can be very stressful especially for a child that is not of the same gender that the parent they live with is. It is also an even more stressful time for the parent in the respect that they may not be receiving the type of support that they need or want from another adult that has a large role in the child's life.
The first thing that caught my attention when reading the beginning pages of this book is that the job of a middle school teacher goes far beyond academic level. Besides for balancing a curriculum full of all of the required subjects and following guidelines, middle school teachers are also given the challenging task of trying to incorporate life skills and different ways to prepare these young adults for the years to come without trying to overwhelm them. The job of a middle school teacher seems like a very difficult balancing act, one that is often overlooked.
The other thing that I found extremely interesting is how different it must be working with these "frog stage" children as a teacher and as a parent. I'm sure that both roles have their own challenges completely different from one another.
While reading the beginning pages of this book, I began to think of a young girl that lives on my block named Samantha. I have known Samantha since she was 4 years old and used to babysit for her and her brother. Now, Samantha is in 7th grade and is going through many of these frog-like stages in her life. It's something that I notice both in the neighborhood and when I go to her house weekly to tutor her. I believe that my relationship with Samantha will definitely help me better understand the content in this book and what these "frogs" are going through.
I definitely agree with what you are saying about the multi-faceted job of a middle school teacher. I believe every teacher, regardless of the age of the students, wears multiple "hats," so to speak, in addition to taking on the role of an educator. Yet, perhaps being a middle school teacher is more difficult than a high school or elementary school teacher because the students are going through such changes that it is even hard to fathom how they could be dealt with coupled with going to school every day.
In class the other day I was actually thinking about a comment I saw posted on the text-poll. Someone had said that middle school is a time where we encounter some of our most influential teachers and we may not even notice this. I reflected on this and would have to completely agree with whoever texted in that response. However, since you go through your "frogness" during middle school you are not really thinking about the impact your teachers are making on you. Now I realize that middle school teachers are brave people ready to take on whatever challenges are thrown at them on a daily basis, from someone getting in a fight in the cafeteria over who is better at football, to a girl chipping a nail. Middle school teachers realize that although these problems may be small, they mean everything to the students experiencing them at that time.
I definitely agree with you Nicole. It really is a balancing act that is overlooked and maybe even under appreciated. Although it is not to say that parents do not experience these "frog" behaviors at home, teachers are the ones spending most of the hours of the day with them, trying to teach them about math or history that the frogs do not give a damn about (for lack of better words). At home, as mentioned in the reading, the frogs spend most of their time locked up in the room or hanging out/talking to friends online or on the phone. It is interesting to think about.
Its scary how much we are going to have to deal with if we end up working in a middle school. This book really put it into perspective for me too because I had no idea that kids were dealing with all of these problems at such a young age. I really like this book because it allows me to reflect on how i was at that age, and i realize that I went through everything that has happened in this book. We are not just going to be their teachers, but the people they are going to go to with their non academic problems.
Im not so sure that being a middle school teacher is necessarily more or less difficult than high school or elementary school but I do believe that this shows us that no matter what level or age your students are at there are always going to be different problems and struggles that you face.
I really like when you said that the job of a middle school teacher goes far beyond academic level, and that it is a job that often times goes overlooked. Upon reading Chapters 1/2 it has made me realize that we as educators must not only look for the well being of our students academically, but also on a level where they have the reassurance from us knowing that they have someone there to encourage them and to support them. It bothers me to hear when people say teachers are just baby-sitters throughout the day. Only someone in the position of an educator would know how hard and rewarding it is to work with a variety of students; knowing they depend on us to guide through their education as well as their transitioning lives. The first few chapters were eye-openers are just how important it is to give these young adults their space and how hard it is for them to transition from schools year after year.
I agree Nicole, what I should have said was perhaps being a middle school teacher is more difficult than I have imagined it would be. Just because my particular certification will allow me to teach up to 6th grade does not mean I would be as equipped to teach 6th grade in a middle as I am to teach in within the confines of an elementary school. I think taking "Visions and Practices in Middle School Education" is important for educators on the childhood track even if they are not necessarily looking to receive the middle school extension certification.
Although one can argue that being a middle school teacher is as strenuous as being an elementary school teacher or high school teacher, I would have to say that so far, with my own experiences in the middle school as well as hearing about my mentor teacher's 15 years of middle school experience, it takes a special kind of understanding and preparation that is unlike that for a younger child or even a teenager. Overall, it is different. I didn't realize that this is a time more so for preparing them, rather than really "teaching" them. It is a time to let them learn about themselves through different educational prompts. Middle school teachers are preparing high school teachers.
An analogy of using a family of three siblings comes to mind. I am the middle child of my family. I have an older brother and younger brother, so I say that I suffer from "middle child syndrome." This is exactly what middle school is in the educational world. Middle school is always going to suffer from middle child syndrome because it doesn't get to be babied like elementary school and doesn't get to be taken as seriously as high school. It is stuck in the middle and doesn't know how to act. It is uncomfortable and is looking for guidance.
I am both scared and enticed to find out what middle school is really about today and what my role really is as a middle school teacher.
I loved Jess's analogy about middle school kids, or these "Frogs", as the middle child in a family. The kids are still trying to figure out where they belong and are also trying to get the hang of how things are changing and adjusting accordingly. They are also looking for guidance, but look for it among their peers because they believe that their parents or teachers may be to old and incapable of relating to what they are going through.
I found this book to be very interesting and funny. It discussed the ages of 10 to 15 and labeled it as the early adolescent development period. The book expressed that this is a time of opportunities, challenges and involvement for all of the people involved in a child's life. I found this to be very interesting becasue particularly our education classes are focused on the child instead of the parent and I think that it is just as important for the parents to understand tha changes as well as the children becasue acts and deals with troubling situations differently. It also stressed the idea that although something isn't easy it can still be fun. If parents and teachers are properly educated about the trying times of young adolescents that there are certain steps that could be taken to make the process enjoyable instead of challenging. Another important point that the book expressed was the idea so search and separation. Although it is very hard for the parent to do so, the need to allow their child to experience life as an individual in a type of sink or swim idea.
Reading on in the book, Chapter 4 really was educational to me. The first line I really enjoyed was when Garvin said "it is important for them to see that they can touch something today that they could not reach yesterday" (pg. 26). This, both physically and metaphorically could not be more true, and can even be applied to people of all ages. Seeing your accomplishments and knowing your inability to previously do it is one of the best feelings in the world.
As others have posted about, I also found it very true that most disciplinary problems occur in the halls (pg. 27). Boys have such a short, 10 minute attention span which I found very interesting, while girls constantly need to hear their own voice. Then, there of course is the "combination lock challenge" and the whole tight space in the hallway issue that adds to these hallway problems.
Growth spurts, along with delayed developments of the body lead to all sorts of awkwardness in frogs and even social issues. Delayed youngsters almost feel threatened and inferior, while those who have gone through puberty earlier feel like they may be too developed compared to their peers.
Another interesting point Garvin mentioned was the way these frogs receive their info on sexuality: 8% from dad, 24% from mom, and the rest from their peers who know just as little on the topic as they do (usually) (pg. 35). Overall, schools definitely need more opportunities to work with parents. These kids need to avoid destruction of self concept and make sure their energy is used to help them be productive in the school setting (pg. 38).
Having become an education major the one part I have always dreaded was having to observe or student teach in a middle school. I always assumed middle school would be full of annoying students who haven't figured themselves yet and are testing the water this point in their life in order to do so. However, having read most of "Learning How to Kiss a Frog" my perception of middle school kids, otherwise known as "frogs", has definitely changed. The book brings a whole new perspective on these adolescents especially with the analogy of these years being like a dock. The students are going through life changes and have to learn how to come to terms with them and adjust accordingly. What I remember the most is the author mentioning that these frogs only care about the present, the here and the now. While many of us may see this as childish and irresponsible, I find myself feeling a bit jealous. I'm constantly planning and planning for various different reasons such as school, lesson planning, what i'm going to do on the weekends, to even life goals like marriage and such. Yet the one thing I never really do is enjoy where I am in life and stop to take everything. I'm constantly engaging myself to plan my future and everything I can do which in reality is something I'm not able to control. These adolescents however take everything one step at a time, enjoying their current walk on the dock and just awaiting what will happen next and take it as it comes.
There are many parts that Garvin mentions in his book that I can easily relate to back in my frog days as well as now. He mentions that these adolescents come home from school or wherever and instead of talking to their parents like they used to, they go straight to their room and close their door. This is something that I used to do back in my middle school days, and while I hate to admit, I still do today. Of course I do appreciate my parents a lot more than when I was younger and make sure to talk and catch up with them whenever I can, but whenever I get the chance to be in my room I unconsciously walk in now and just close the door behind me.I can only imagine how this would make me feel when I hopefully become a mother but I also understand this is somewhat a "right of passage" for these kids and a source of independence for them.
While I am currently student teaching in a high school and have only ever observed high school classes, I will be student teaching in one of the Bellmore-Merrick middle schools coming this October and have become more and more excited to do so. I hope the experience allows me to better understand these frogs as this book did and get to witness the what their transitional period may look like and hopefully be able to help a student in any way which possible.
5 characteristics if Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
6 Characteristics of Culture and Community
Boy, is my brother a frog.
From chapter 1, pace 3, I knew that reading this affectionately-titled book was going to be informative. The author's commentary on his difficulty with his own kids, I felt, mirrors very strongly the lifestyle I'm currently living with my brother, who is supposedly nearing the end of his "frog" phase. Here I am, someone who us purportedly studying how to create the most mentally friendly and stimulating environment I can for adolescents, yet when I go home to my own troubled adolescent brother, I become frightened that I haven't learned a thing at all, that I'll never be able to help another child. As the author says, my brother knows how to strip down any professionalism I have; my parents cry, "YOU'RE studying how to handle children like him; what can we do to help?" And I'm left with nothing to say.
Latching on to the author's admission here—which I felt resonate keenly with my own situation—I read eagerly on, in hopes that he might have the key to help me solve my own doubts, professionally and at home. What metaphorical affectionate forehead "kiss" of good faith, inspiration, and security can I offer both my brother and future students? Because I know, from personal experiences, that once those students go home at three o'clock, their lives are completely different stories than what I see unfolding in the classroom.
As I read onward, I began to see the threads of theory weaving into Garvin's metaphor that I recognized from past Education classes. The need for one's own space, finding validation in peers who are going through the same live and generational experiences, who begin to replace parents as a means of confiding and care, and the importance of social learning.
As chapter 1 ended, I did begin to think that, as a teacher at least, I would likely not suffer the pain a parent feels when their child suddenly begins to express independence. There's that, at least. But as a teacher, I will still be an authority figure against which these wondrous little "frogs" will have to assert their independence, as well.
Into chapter 2, I once more felt the comment that many adults feel that the "frogs" should be "committed," or dedicated to something in their lives (21). This resonated with the idea that many parents look a their "frogs" and envy their energy and bright-eyed hope. At a stage in my life now where I any trying to actively scrap a future together, I feel that I might have a tendency as a teacher to want to push my students to dream, to shoot for a life that they can be happy with. Though I know that relationship building is so important psychologically at this time, I appreciate reading texts like this to remind me that "frogs" of this age aren't at a developmental place where the future means much to them (this is the same problem I'm having with my brother at the moment, who views his "future" as a far-off, nebulous concept), and that can be hard for someone past the "frog" stage to remember. I know that this egocentric stage is important, and have to gently remind myself that even encouraging them to dream of a happy future where they can do anything is still too far off and concrete for them, even if I feel as though this is the age where you should still feel like you can be "anything" (as opposed to something "realistic" like an accountant, or pharmacist).
I am really enjoying this read so far! I love the metaphor of the "frog" representing the early adolescent because thinking back to my own experience, that is very much what I felt like! I had a growth spurt early in life and was a tall, gangly girl, very frog-like as Garvin describes. Everyone eventually out-grew me but at the time I was the only one above 5ft in my class! I have found that within this book so far, I have been able to justify my own behavior during that time in my life, which I never really thought of doing before. The idea of the early adolescent needing their own spaces to live out the "imaginary world" filled only with the present, being their friends, their looks, and their interests - completely separate from their families - was very interesting to read because I was that girl. I would come home from school and sit in my room chatting with friends online until it was time for dinner, which would be followed by me returning to my computer. It's a funny thing to look back on now having learned why this behavior is so common.
I think everyone can relate to what you are saying, especially the part about friends playing such a huge role in the life of a "frog." Looking back on my middle school years, nothing was more important than coming home from school to go on the computer and use AIM with my friends. In middle school, friends really became everything and if someone took you off their top 8 on Myspace, it was basically the same as saying "I hate you and don't want to be your friend anymore." Middle school students take their encounters with their friends so seriously. The idea of them being in their own imaginary world is so perfect, because often times to these kids, their friends are all that really matters.
Yes! AIM was everything to me until about half-way through high school when I forced myself to stop using it because I was so addicted. I forgot how serious everyone took their Top 8's though - it doesn't get more imaginary than that.
I couldn't agree with you more Kyle! Middle school was full of all about aim and our Myspace top 8! I would always just come home, go straight to my room, and post something on the site or talk to all my friends on aim. I would always spend numerous hours on my away message for aim too, never failing to mention that I would "be right back" so that I could spend more countless hours talking to my friends whom I spent the last 8 hours in school with. Middle schoolers enjoy being with their friends and having people to relate to and talk to about anything/everything.
I had a similar experience as you, except for I was the smallest person in my grade entering sixth grade. I remember I was so concerned with how people would see me and become paranoid that they wouldn't like me because i was too short. This book really puts everything in perspective because it explains everything that i was concerned about at that age, and how normal it is.
I think it's really interesting how you say you are now able to justify your actions at the age discussed in the book. I hadn't thought of it that way, but yes, I agree with that. I actually just completed my post and part of what I wrote was how I feel guilty for my actions. I guess that at a time like that in life where you are changing so drastically it can be somewhat excused!
I work in a special ed high school where most of my students are medicated for one thing or another and it's interesting how I often justify their actions on the medication being off since they are going through growth spurts etc., but I never thought of the changes being a reason on its own.
That's so interesting that you would think to justify actions based on the medication because I think a lot of us in society now do the same when it reality it may just be the changes themselves seem to be more likely the cause of certain behaviors.
I concur with you Tara. I think once you know you become a Middle School Teacher you have to go into the job understanding that most "frogs" aren't purposely acting out this way because they want to but more so it's because of the changes that they are going through and the various obstacles and differences they must face during this time. It's not until we're older and out of this phase that we can recollect on it and understand how we behaved and acted towards not only our teachers but our parents too having put them through hell. The book does emphasize that parents and teacher should try and not take it personally but instead to be supportive and be willing to listen and talk when these frogs are willing to do the same and come forth to to you to talk about what is going on in their life.
I completely agree! I think that in reading this book, I can now think back to my own "frog" stage and realize why I was the way that I was in many aspects. I was definitely that girl as well who felt that only wanted to hang out with her friends and not her parents. Whenever I was asked how my day was, my go to answer was always "good," followed by me quickly running up to my room and only returning when I smelled dinner. It really is so interesting!
Reading this book has really been a very touching and informative experience. I think that James Garvin does an excellent job of truly getting his readers into the minds of middle school students, emphasizing to us what is really important to them and how we can best go about our interactions with them. There are a couple of sections within the first two chapters which have really stuck out to me. Something really important that I took away from the first chapter is the significance of the humanity of "frogs." On page 2 (Chapter 1), Garvin says that we need to make sure we are not seeing our "frogs" as "just achievers," but also as people who need acknowledgment and recognition for all that makes them human. I think it is so important that we see these children as people first, and students second. We cannot expect too much of our students or else they will resent us. Children are very perceptive, especially children aged 11-15, and I believe that if they sense we don't really care about them as people, they will shut us out. Reflecting back on my middle school years, I developed some deep personal relationships with a lot of my teachers; they often went out of the way to make me and other students feel like we were important, unique individuals, not just another number on a roster.
Something else I really enjoyed so far is the whole analogy of the boat, the dock, and the mystical island of High School (introduced on page 9, Chapter 2.) This is such a perfect way of describing what this whole transition experience is like for middle school students. I can totally remember the sort of tension and confusion that Garvin is alluding to back when I was in that stage of wanting to jump off the dock, but not particularly knowing how I would fit in on the boat. When "frogs" are on the dock, they know that they have this undying support. Making the transition to the boat, however, many "frogs" are fearful; I think sometimes they do not understand that the support is still there, it merely resurfaces itself in different forms. As future middle school educators, we are the ones steering that boat for them. It is up to us to guide them in the right direction and provide them with the love, encouragement, and support that they need in order to succeed.
Lastly, I thought the segment about the bus driver (page 11-12, chapter 2,) was very interesting and seemingly true. There is definitely a difference between the way adults treat elementary aged children and middle school aged children. While in some aspects this is good, because middle school-aged children need to be given more independence and freedom, this becomes a problem when adults start to visibly resent middle school students. Adolescence is a time filled with confusion, turmoil, and tension. These students have so much going on in their lives and bodies that the last thing they need is to be greeted angrily by a cranky bus driver in the morning. I think it is important as adults working with middle school students that we are constantly reflecting upon our encounters with these students, and we do the best to see them as unique people with individual needs and desires.
I like your point about "frogs" being people first and students second. I find that society constantly pushes for bigger and better. How many times do we hear of people looking for the best pre-school for a baby not even born yet? The "frog" time is an important one, I agree. This is the time we should be nurturing these children and helping them find a meaningful place in the world not only based on their grade point average.
Tara, thank you for your response! I absolutely agree with what you are saying. I remember I went to private school all my life and to get into the private high school my parents wanted to send me to, I had to take an entrance exam. At fourteen-years-old I could not fathom how an institution was going to make a decision whether or not to accept me based on a score on a piece of paper! I think that, in a sense, the school system really dehumanizes people to a degree. As educators it is really our job to make sure that students feel important for who they are.
I really enjoyed the dock analogy as well. I definitely think that Garvin hit the nail on the head with this comparison and that it perfectly describes what adolescents go through at this time in their lives.
I also found this book very inspiring and eye-opening about the minds and enviorments of todays middle school students. it made me think of how different it is now as apposed to when we were in elementary and middle school.
I loved the frog-dock analogy as well. I think it was a great way to show the importance of involved parents. I think students who have caring parents who are involved in their lives, who give them attention and support them in a positive ways helps children go through life with more confidence in themselves.
After class Wednesday, I knew I was going to start the book over the weekend. So, while I was student teaching Thursday and Friday, I was trying to see what might be going on in the lives of the different students I had in class and in the lives of the students I saw walking around the hallways. I took special note of their interactions before class and after class, since the work for both days was done silently. Also, I paid close attention to how they interacted after school, primarily when they were getting on the bus. I soon realized that although this time period wasn't that long ago for me, it seems like decades.
I then tried to reflect on what I remember from my own experience. I was in the thirty percent that Garvin described that will not experience major problems in adjustment. My parents did give me a great dael of time and attention. It didn't hurt that my mother always reminded me that I could go live with my Nana if I didn't like living at home. The thought of living with an old-school Irish grandmother was a little frightening and seemed to get to realize that I had it pretty easy with my parents.
A couple of things that Garvin said I saw happen first hand when I was going through this time period. My best friend growing up moved to Suffolk county after elementary school, but we made the effort to see each other every few weeks, normally with sleepovers at his house. He fit into the thirty percent that Garvin mentions on page three that have parents going through a mid-life crisis. To add onto that, his mother could not realize why the desire for affection or ego strokes that Garvin mention were gone. Therefore, there were a lot of times where he felt embarassed by his mother when I was over. To further complicate the situation, his mother was a single mother. For most of his life, it was just the two of them and they had been very close during that time. Now, he was more concerned with his peer group, especially since he was in a new school, in a new town.
After reading the foreword, introduction, and first chapter, it all makes a lot of sense thus far. The timing of reading this book is perfect for me because I will be student teaching 7th grade until October 24th, which is just after the book is due.
When reading, I also reflected back to when I was in middle school. I can vividly remember the relationships my friends, myself included, had with our parents. They were always trying to talk to us about school and our teachers, but we always would give the simple "good" just to shut them up. It is funny to hear the stories my mother tells me about when my family was going through this "frog" stage and how accurate they are to this book so far.
It's interesting how you reflected on the relationship you had with your parents as opposed to those of your friends and their parents. As much as I shut my parents out, we managed to have a good relationship but I watched my close friends' families go through a lot of changes during that time. These friends often cared much more than my other friends about how they appeared to others and about their "status" within the school. I never really thought to make that connection before reading this book.
So far I have read the first two chapters of the book, and I cannot believe how accurate it is about the adolescent stage of a child's life. I found myself thinking back to my middle school years while reading this story and relating it to my own life. I grew up in a huge family and almost half of them are teenagers that want nothing to do with anything but their friends. I love the analogy that they are like frogs because they have no idea where they are going in life, all they care about is what is going on in the present. The first chapter perfectly described the life of an adolescent, and I can't count the amount of times that I have seen this behavior in my cousins and younger sister. My younger sister was in middle school while i was in the tenth grade, and we just happened to share a room at the time. I remember getting home from school before her, and when she would come through the door she would go straight to our room without even telling my mom about her day. I used to just think that she was being moody, but this book has really changed my perception. My mom would always ask why she never wants to be around us and why she shuts herself away, and she believed that my sister didn't like her. In the second chapter, I found the dock analogy to be very clever because these adolescents are supported for the first eleven years of their lives until they begin middle school and they are on their own. I liked how it went through the stages of a child's life. From birth-3, kids need to be comforted and loved, from 3-6 they start getting invited to places for the first time, and from 6 and up they are getting on a school bus for the first time on their own. I remember my mom telling me how hard it was for her to let us go off on the bus because it would be the first time we were away from her. Its impossible to know what would happen to us throughout the day at school, and that made her nervous. I on the other hand couldn't wait to go to school because I absolutely loved the teacher I had. I also found it interesting when it talked about how bus drivers are happier when they are around elementary kids and miserable around middle schoolers. I have seen this occur many times because I used to get my cousins on the bus in the morning. One of them was in 2nd grade and the other was in 7th grade. The bus divers had two completely different personalities. I would smile at the elementary bus driver and we would have conversations, but when the middle school bus driver would come she would not even look or speak to me and looked like she was miserable. Adolescents just give off the miserable vibe to people because they are trying to find their place in the world.
I find that this book has very accurate insights to the life of an early adolescent. What I find interesting is the parent angle. My father often teases me about how I was as a preteen. I was a typical "frog." I was awkward in my appearance and trying desperately to find my place within my peers. I remember it being a difficult time. I was moody, and kept to myself at home and was utterly mortified by my parents while in front of my friends. When I was in the 7th grade, I left my lunch at home one day and my father, being the loving, wonderful man that he is, brought it to me at school. He had to call my name into the school yard so I could hear him. I remember clearly how embarrassed I was. I would have rather starved that day than be humiliated like that. As an adult I can look back and appreciate his good intentions, and feel horrible for hurting his feelings. As the book discusses, "frogs" are self involved and don't think much beyond their immediate life. There's no long term thinking - all in the moment thinking with very little regard for others. It seems accurate that self image and socializing are most important. They can hurt their parents feelings so easily, because they are not thinking beyond their own needs/wants.
It must be difficult as a parent to allow your child to go out on their own. Figuring out the balance between being involved and allowing your "frog" to be independent. This must result in a great deal of conflict. According to the book, "frogs" no longer want to rely on adults for things, but it is our instinct to help and protect them. I think that this is where teachers need to come into play, especially at this age. We're not the parents, so maybe, hopefully we are not as embarrassing? "Frogs" need positive role models and that's exactly what we should be. I know with the content there is so much to do in a school year, but I sincerely believe that our job goes beyond the curriculum and is to help "frogs" grow up to be independent, well adjusted adults who can support themselves.
I am so thrilled with the experiences that you all are having with the book so far. I like reading the personal and professional connections that you are making.
As I continue to read on there are many different aspects of this book that speak to me. Chapter 4, focusing on growing pains and the physical growth of “frogs” is very interesting and provides a lot of insight about certain “frog” behaviors. On page 29, Garvin gives the example of the boy named Bill who falls asleep in class and literally slides out of his seat onto the floor. Prior to reading this chapter I could easily understand how a teacher could become enraged by something like this and quickly lash out at the student. It makes sense, however, that middle school students often times physically lose control of their bodies. The chapter explains that sometimes during the “growth spurt” middle school students simply fall asleep during lengthy periods of inactivity. This is not because these students are trying to be disrespectful, or even because they are disinterested in the lesson. In adolescence, as the body is constantly growing, when one is told to sit still and be inactive for a substantial period of time, it is very easy for a middle school student to fall asleep beyond reasons of his or her control. As teachers I think it is very important that we know this so we can make conscious efforts to plan activities that we know will keep our students stimulated and keep the blood circulating.
I can remember many times throughout middle school, and even high school, when I would catch myself drifting off to sleep during class. Prior to reading this chapter I honestly never understood why this was, because I would walk into class wide awake, usually being well rested, yet I would still pass out within minutes of the teacher talking. It makes sense that when our bodies are craving to move and be stimulated, but we physically cannot provide them with said movement at the moment, they tire out and resort to sleep mode; there is nothing to keep the blood moving. In middle school I would get in trouble all of the time by my social studies teacher because she thought I was not paying attention. I remember coming home from school and trying to explain to my parents that I was paying attention and I knew what was going on in the class. For as long as I can remember, my social studies teacher couldn’t fathom how I could fall asleep in class but still get great grades. Looking back at it now, it’s not that I was not paying attention or neglecting the material, I was merely responding to the inactivity.
I sat down to start reading this book, and by the time I put it down I did not even realize that I was already more than halfway through it. In Chapter 1 alone I was so intrigued by seeing the "frog" stage of a child through Garvin, a parent's eyes. There are so many times where I can recall my mother or father has said to me, "You will understand once you are older," or "You will get it when you have kids of your own one day." Now of course I never wanted to listen to my parents when they said these things, nor did I really ever believe them. However, sometimes it takes the stories of another person, such as Garvin who is a parents but has no parental relations to us as students, to open our eyes to the experiences that others have when we only care about ourselves. In reality, the deprivation of a parent's "ego" (I believe Garvin called it) is brought to the forefront when their child is dealing with their frogness. Situations, emotions, and changes can be dealt with irrationally due to drastic shift in a child's relationship with their parent. Whereas a parent may have been a child's confidant and protector the first 11 years of their life, once that child turns 12 he or she needs to begin to deal with the world on more of their own terms without relying on their parents. Yet the parents do not understand how to deal with this properly, and then some may wind up pushing their children further away from them by trying to keep them close to them. I have experienced this first hand with the relationship between my younger sister and mother. She had more difficulty than I did in her adjustment period before high school, and not only did she shut my mom and dad out, but she shut me out as well because she saw me as another parental figure.
Another provoking point Garvin makes in Chapter 4 is that adult expectations for certain children may be higher simply because they look older and are assumed to be more mature. In addition, it is not just the smaller, maybe weaker, "frogs" that can have poor self-concepts, it is also the bigger, faster growing "frogs" who feel self-conscious about looking different from their peers. This discussion reminded me of an article I read once in another education class that discussed how boys and girls are treated differently in a classroom. The article dealt with anything from discipline, to assignments, and even to the way a teacher positions him or herself in a chair when working with a group of boys and girls. It is said that girls mature quicker than boys do, so the correlation I see between what Garvin is saying and the article that I read is that maybe teachers are assuming that because girls may go through physical changes before boys, that their minds are somehow also more attuned to learning. In the article I read, teachers paid no extra attention to girls who were sitting doing their work because they were so focused on the next time they would have to discipline a boy for disrupting the class. The assumption is made that the girls are well behaved and mature, but the boys will continuously act out and cause problems for the teacher.
On page 27 the author discusses how most of the disciplinary issues among “frogs” occur in the hallways of school. Earlier today I was talking with friends of mine who have younger children, one of which is in the fifth grade and is currently being bullied. The other children keep coming up to him and placing their hands on his belly calling him fat. My friend is desperately trying to support her son to handle the matter on his own. She wants him to become independent and learn to stand up to bullies in an appropriate way. Another friend who was involved in the conversation (also with children of her own) said that if it were her, she would have been at the school already complaining to the principal that no one was protecting her child. As a teacher, it is difficult to be everywhere at every moment, and it is really frightening to think that someone could be hurt or bullied on my watch. I then question whether or not additional staff is required? Do we need adult hall monitors? Should the teachers be in the hallways between classes? Then how do we prepare for classes? But then who’s watching our kids and keeping them safe? I think that issues like this bring up the idea of what it means to be a teacher. I think that a common misconception is that teachers are those who simply present content specific material and give/grade tests. Teachers should be so much more than that. As the author discusses, “frogs” need positive adult role models that they can trust. How many kids do you know actually WANT to get a teacher involved when they are being bullied? Instead they try to keep to themselves and cope as best they can. This could potentially lead to “frogs” feeling helpless, and as if they have no other options in life. Sometimes they run away, sometimes they even take their lives – but I will write more about those issues in a later post.
I could not agree with you more because bullying is a huge issue in schools now. Now kids are getting cellphones at younger ages, and using them to hurt other children with comments. The biggest issue right now is Facebook because i feel like elementary school kids are getting facebooks now and the things they post are absolutely ridiculous. Its important for parents to set boundaries with their children on what is acceptable and what is not. I also agree with what you said about teachers being much more than just the people presenting content material. These kids may come from many different home lives, and need a parental figure that will help them and listen to them. Children should be able to talk to their teachers about problems they are having and not be afraid to speak up. This is the reason so many kids take their lives at such a young age because they feel like no one will listen to them.
Isn't it insane how early children get involved in social media?? It bothers me that children receive cell phones, especially smart phones, at such a young age. Unfortunately, but fortunately, education is moving forward with technology. My friend has two teenage daughters who are not allowed smart phones, but their school requires them to check their email and Edmodo (almost like an educational Facebook) regularly. They often miss out on notifications because of it. I don't know how I feel about all of that since these things are also so closely linked to bullying as you mentioned.
At the DASA Workshop that we are required to attend as part of our teaching certification, we were given the blueprints of a basic school: classrooms, cafeteria, recess yard, etc. Then, we were asked to identify which area of the school that bullying takes place the most. The answer was the recess yard. Even at schools where there are a multitude of lunch aids, bullying still takes place during lunch and recess time, leaving children and adolescents vulnerable. Therefore, it is not hard to believe that bullying would be taking place in hallways between classes on an adolescent level. Some "frogs" probably see this as their opportunity to act as bullies because there is little adult supervision. I agree with you Tara how you say it is difficult to be everywhere at once, and I can only imagined how it will feel once I have my own classroom and find out that bullying is occurring among my students. In my opinion the main action we as educators have to talk is making sure our students know we are there for them, and not expecting them to deal with the issue on their own.
Amber, you're right - communication is key. The more we can talk with our students and support them the better! My school is a school where most, if not all of the students were terribly bullied in their district school and it is so obvious how broken they are. It really pulls at your heart strings!
While reading this same chapter, I also took note of the fact that most disciplinary issues occur in the hallways. It makes sense to me, being that I only graduated from these "5 minutes of freedom" a short 5 years ago. I witnessed so many harsh words between different groups of friends, I saw girls slap ex-boyfriends across the face, upperclass students knock books out of younger, more awkward students hands, and even people belittled because they were "fat" or "ugly." It is so sad to see, and as a teacher we of course will try to stop it when we see it or when we can. But you are right. How are we supposed to always be at 4 different places taking care of 4 or more different things we need to get done throughout a single day?? I think it is something that, as possible middle school teachers, we will be able to learn to handle with time and experience.
This book just keeps getting better each time i pick it up to read more chapters. I finished the chapter titled Growing pains, and it really helped me to see how a child's physical appearance is so important throughout middle school. Children get embarrassed by the way they look at this stage, and that takes away their focus from learning. I remember when i was in middle school and my least favorite subject was gym because i would have to change my clothes in the locker room. I was so much shorter than all the other people in my class and i always felt like i was being judged by them. It got to the point where i started changing in the stalls just so that no one would see me. I didn't go through the growth spurt as fast as everyone else in my grade, and that affected me a lot when walking through the hallways and trying to focus on what i was being taught. I like how it said that you cannot tell how old a kid is by their appearance. This cannot be more accurate because i walk into classrooms everyday and the kids just keep getting smaller and smaller. I always say to myself that i was never that small when i was in that grade, meanwhile i most likely was. I also liked when it talked about how many of the problems in middles schools occur in the hallway. I found it interesting when it mentioned that most boys come into the hallway and the first thing they do is hit or kick something, and the girls will immediately socialize because they haven't been able to do it for a while. I remember finally getting out of class and immediately rushing out into the hallway to find my friends before my next class because it seemed like forever since i got to speak to anyone. Classes should be engaging because otherwise children are going to lose interest in whatever lesson is being taught to them. I remember the most boring classes were the ones where the teacher lectures for 40 min and we are just supposed to right down everything that is put on the board.
The other chapter I read was the one entitled "The learning potential of frogs". This chapter gave a lot of insight into how children develop differently at different times in their lives. It said that teachers should encourage children to ask questions, and elaborate on their answers. I could not agree with this more because there are so many people that don't feel like listening to children and don't have any patience to wait for their answers. I work at a day care center, and during one of our camp trips this summer to a museum i remember the tour guide asking the kids if they had any questions and my supervisor said no meanwhile every kid had their hand raised. I remember begin so angry at her because the kids were really interested to learn something new but they weren't given the chance. I also found it interesting when it talked about how children will memorize information because they are not at the right thinking level to understand it. I used to do this all the time in middle school. I would go home and call my friends to see if they could give me the answers or simply read the definitions over and over again to memorize them without understanding them. I was always guilty of taking the easy way out, and in middle school cliff notes was my best friend. I remember how low my self esteem used to be in my sixth grade english class because i had a horrible teacher who didn't take the time to differentiate her instructions. I struggled so hard in math because it was too abstract for me to understand, and she would never slow down to help me or differentiate it in terms i could understand. The following year i was placed in the AIS math program, but my seventh grade math teacher pulled me out after one week because i was excelling in her class. She was one of my favorite teachers because she got to know the way that i learned, and would slow down to help us better understand the material. If one of us was having trouble, she would go over it again until we were all ready to move forward. Math was my favorite subject after that class, and i ended up graduating college with a bachelors in math. Teachers need to learn how their students think in order to ensure that they are learning.
You bring up so many valid points in this response. I find it really interesting that a lot of other people had the same experiences as me in gym class. I think that so many students feel uncomfortable in gym but no one wants to admit it. Middle school can really be a vicious time period - students do not necessarily always know how mean and intimidating they are to one another. Being too short or too fat, or not having big enough breasts or muscles, can really be traumatic for a middle school student trying to fit in. I remember I was always the skinniest boy in my class so I felt very uncomfortable in gym class because I thought that everyone was so much more athletic than me. As a middle school student, there are so many different factors that come into play with regards to self-esteem and egos. As teachers, it is our job to try and find stimulating, nurturing, and inclusive activities that will not only help these "frogs" find themselves, but also help them feel good about whoever it is they find. Your point about having lessons that are not boring is very solid. If a student is bored, they are more likely to get themselves into trouble. I truly believe that we can reduce a lot of the conflicts and issues between students in the classroom by providing them with more interesting and engaging lessons.
In Chapter 5 Garvin discusses an experiment that he had been involved in, where he would go to shopping malls and watch the behavior of students in the video game arcades. "Of the ten I interviewed, nine were boys and eight were classified as "at risk" students in the school!" Although intrigued, I was not shocked that among the characteristics that these boys have was the "intellectual and motor talent" involved in playing video games. Garvin states that studies show boys are visual-kinesthetic learners, which would explain their high capacity and knowledge of an activity such as playing video games. It is not probable to provide boys academic learning through visual stimulus such as computer and video games every minute of the school day, yet it is important that teachers take information such as this into consideration when they are searching ways to differentiate their lesson plans and tap into each students' individual learning style.
I think as future teachers, we should take advantage of their interest in video games and kinesthetic activities. One way we could do this is by incorporating class activities that has the students up and moving, rather than just sitting in their desks.
Also, I took a class over the summer where we learning about incorporating technology into the classroom, and it was one of my favorite classes I have had in college. I decided to do a project on incorporating video games into the classroom, and I had a lot of fun finding different ways to relate the games to the lessons. I think offering alternatives to the traditional lecturing, such as kinesthetic activity and video games can significantly help these students who are labeled as "at risk".
I have been enjoying your posts and thoughtful insights while reading. I am even happier that you all appear to be enjoying the book!
So far "Learning How to Kiss a Frog," has been an eye opening experience. When I was first asked whether or not I would prefer middle school over high school, I had a knee jerk reaction of high school over middle school. I remembered that middle school was an awkward time for me and that I didn't want to be the one to make them feel even more weird and uncomfortable. But I did offer that I still had an open mind about it, although it scared me.
After reading a little less than halfway, I realized that I am not the only one who feels weird about this particular age group. I appreciate the honesty of Garvin and his perspective so that it makes my job easier. Of course, I was placed in a Middle School first. I am with 7th graders coming from more than 5 elementary schools. They are scared beyond belief and I have no idea how to act. I am used to working with older kids, so for me this is a complete challenge.
My first challenge came with a 7th grade girl who wouldn't be quiet after multiples attempts at asking her to stop. To preface this situation, I was left for my first day teaching with a substitute teacher because my mentor teacher was out on jury duty. I became so overwhelmed and frustrated, that I guess all I could think of doing was yelling at her. Unfortunately, that didn't help the situation and I thought that by calling on her, it would get her to stop, which definitely wasn't the case. My mentor teacher then told me I was allowed to move her or give her detention. What frustrated me the most was not being able to understand what was going through her head. Was she doing this on purpose to piss me off? To show off for her friends? What was her reasoning? I tried to relate back to when I was her age, but I would never disrespect a teacher, so I couldn't relate to her. Reading this book is allowing me to delve more into my drawer of patience and realize sometimes it is inexplicable as to why these young adults act this way.
Of course,I remember being this age and wanting to rebel in all ways possible and for reasons I can't even validate, but I never did it in school, only to my parents. Garvin explains from his perspective as an educator and parent, but I find it difficult to relate considering I cannot put myself in the place of a parent, but at least I am able to think back to how I treated my own.
As of right now, my appreciation for middle school teachers has risen. I have only just begun my journey and cannot wait to read more and be able to relate it to the experiences presented in this book.
I also recently read "The Learning Potential of Frogs" and I think it is very true that young adolescents develop at different times, both mentally and physically. For me, a great example of this is observing my brother and cousins. They are all around the same age but it seems like they are all developing at their own pace. One of my cousins is very mature and acts very old for her age. On the other hand, another one of my cousins is not so mature mentally. And physically, they are all at different developmental stages which makes it even harder to believe they are around the same age. I can remember being the smallest kid in my classes because everyone else hit their growth spurts before I did.
Another part of the chapter I liked was from page 41, which said, "Once your 'frog' enters this new stage, it is important that we not see his behavior as defiance, but as an opportunity to help him develop a new level of thinking." I have been working with middle schoolers a long time, and I know first hand that they ask a lot of questions. And although sometimes they may seem inappropriate, I think we have to realize that they may not know better at that stage in their development. I also think that we have to be more patient with young adolescent students both in school and out because we shouldn't miss out on an opportunity to help them grow and learn. Getting frustrated and angry at the questions they ask only hurts them, and we should be willing to help them at all times.
Jack, I think that you make a valid point about the types of questions these children ask. It is important not to get angry with them, but I also think it's part of our responsibility as educators to explain what is appropriate and what isn't without being discouraging. Kids are curious, and should be, but I believe it is important for them to be aware of their audience when discussing certain things.
I agree with all of the comments above. Reading this has changed my perspective adolescence and teaching middle school level children. So far, I am almost half way through this book and it has opened up my eyes to many things I have never thought about before. I find it interesting how children between the ages of 11 and 15 need the most attention during this period of time, but tend to shut parents and adults out of their own "imaginary" world. I also never realized that an adolescent's room is an important part of their life where they can escape from all means of reality. This quick transition from childhood to adolescence will make parents very uneasy because relating to my own experiences my mom use to constantly worry about the amount of time my younger brother use to spend locked up in his room. I never knew that this was considered "normal" until after reading this section of the book.
Also, this book is an eye opener to how difficult it really is to be a middle school educator. Not only does one have to teach these adolescents, but they also need to help these kids cope with all these adolescent stressors. Adolescents are not concerned with school at this age. They are thinking about things like "what am I going to wear tomorrow?", what they are doing after school, and the boys/girls they like. This is so true though because thinking back to my middle school experience there was always something to think about other then the school work right in front of you. These "frogs" are worried about what they can do to build their popularity and be accepted by their adolescent peers.
I agree with you, Taylor! I definitely think that being a middle school educator is harder than any other grade level. We are responsible for so much more than just making sure that our students understand the curriculum. It is our job to make sure that these students are developing into productive members of society and making sure they are not going down the wrong path. I think your points about the "issues" that middle school students have to cope with is also very valid. Middle school students are not necessarily concerned with the same things that we are. The most important thing to them is if the girl or boy that they like feels the same way. These students are constantly dealing with ego and self-esteem issues and it is our responsibility to make sure that our students are safe, happy, and feeling positive about themselves.
I completely agree as well. I think that being a middle school teacher definitely encompasses a lot more than just the academic aspect. We need to do our best to ease their worries and their concerns with fitting in while also attempting to cover some of the curriculum! Popularity and looks are definitely main concerns for adolescents but it's our job to help our students try and look past them.
Reading this book is really opening my mind to a lot of different aspects of a middle school student. I absolutely do not think that middle school students are as one- dimensional as I thought they were prior to this book. One thing that has stuck out to me is the different changes that occur in the life of a middle school student. I think that the most challenging of these changes to identify is with regards to cognitive ability and development. Whereas physical changes are blatantly obvious to notice, often times as our “frogs” evolve cognitively, it may be harder to tell. On page 39 and 40 (Chapter 5,) Garvin explains the story of his car ride with his thirteen-year-old son, Jim, who begins attacking and questioning him because of his driving ten miles over the speed limit. Ironically enough, I resonate tremendously with this little story because I can remember an almost identical situation with my father driving home from the movies late one night. My father had brought my cousin and I to see a late night movie when I was about thirteen years old, and driving home from said movie, he was speeding down the highway in our convertible! As a college graduate looking back at this experience, I can fully acknowledge that my dad was just in a rush and probably wanted to get home and go to bed; my father’s intentions were obviously not to hurt my cousin and I. As an inquisitive thirteen-year-old though, I began to cry profusely stating that my dad was going to kill us from driving so fast with the top down. Both of these scenarios are prime examples of how adolescents begin to think for themselves and reason with things, always questioning, but not necessarily always understanding things how we do.
As teachers, we need to be very understanding of this mentality as well: our “frogs” will most likely question everything that we do. Garvin brings up an excellent point saying, “it is important that we not see his behavior as defiance, but as an opportunity to help him develop a new level of thinking” (Chapter 5, page 41.) Inquisition is definitely not the same thing as disrespect, however, many teachers do not realize that. Though there is a time and a place for questioning authority, new adolescents do not always know this. It is our job as middle school educators to help them gradually understand so they are prepared for the high school experience. We should not shy away or impose punitive action for an onset of questions, but rather we should welcome it. This is the age where we can begin introducing problem solving, group discussions, and conclusion-based activities to our students. No child should ever feel as if his or her thoughts, questions, and opinions are not validated in a classroom.
The beginning of chapter four says "you cannot tell how old a 'frog' is by the way he looks!" I learned that quickly. On my first day of student teaching I would see students walk in the hallway, think they're in eigth grade, and then they came into my classroom. My immediate thought was, "you're in seventh grade!?" The reasons behind that thought were the physical maturity and the attire that some students had. I definitely see some of the more mature girls not wanting anything to do with the boys who look like they're in seventh grade, as mentioned on page 30. I haven't seen the boys do too much to compensate for this yet, but I'm curious to see what happens as the weeks go on. Five different elementary schools funneled into this middle school, so a majority of kids are still getting to know each other and the school.
Another idea that I found interesting was on page 33. It says, "adults often treat children based on how they look, not according to their age. It is not at all unusual to see youngsters thirteen or fourteen years old who look like eight-year-olds being treated as such." In my first two weeks of student teaching, I've done my best to treat all students in an age appropriate way. I've picked up that some think that they are adults, primarily as they pass from class to class in the hallway. Also, the hallway is a terrible, terrible place for these kids. Its touched upon in the chapter and when I've been in the hallway in between classes, I'm surprised but also not surprised by what I see and hear. More than anything else, the language hasn't been too crude thus far.
Lastly, I find it interesting how the development into frogs is described. The analogy in the second chapter about the dock and the supports make clear sense. With those supports present, its interesting to read about the students bodily development. I never understood why a student may fidget every two minutes or lose interest so quickly. I knew that the attention span was slim to none, but I never took account the biological factors that also contribute.
With all these different factors that contribute to the daily life of a middle schooler and my desire to get to know them on an individual basis, it makes sense that I'm exhausted each day after teaching five classes.
Michael, isn't it interesting what students will say when they don't think anyone is listening? I often wonder if my students don't see me or just don't care! What I also find interesting is how one minute they could be discussing something juvenile and then the next be cursing or being extremely vulgar. It just goes to show how easily they can be stuck between childhood and adulthood as you said.
So far I am enjoying reading Learning How To Kiss A Frog, and have read up to the beginning of chapter 4.
I can remember those days of being a frog, when your parents were not to be trusted, and everything they said and did was embarrassing. I remember when it was more important for me to spend time with friends and away from them, and that I was old enough to take care of myself. The metaphor for the dock is a great idea, because it really captures the difficult period that is adolescence. After making it to the end of the dock, and getting in the boat, these kids don't realize what they need to do. They are so distracted by not being attached to their parents any more that they don't notice where they are going. They get too focused on themselves to wonder where they are going.
The metaphor for the dock really was a great one! Middle schoolers get so caught up in the freedom, the drama, the changes, and the new environment that they often forget what they are doing and where they are going.
I find it very hard to pace myself while reading because I am so intrigued by the concepts that Garvin brings up.
In "The Learning Potential of Frogs" chapter, I particularly love the example given about realizing that the "frogs" begin reasoning differently where his son begins hounding the father about how fast he is driving. I remember the first time I realized that my dad was speeding, I yelled at him for probably the entire car ride and I have been bugging him about wearing a seat belt since I reached that stage in my development when my reasoning began to change. I think reaching the point where you can see that your parents aren't perfect, that they speed and don't wear their seat belt all the time or try to pass you off as being a "child" for a discount, is a huge step in growing up because I believe that's one of the first times you see your parents as regular people and not good ol' Mom and Dad.
The point Garvin brings up about nurturing this change in reasoning is extremely important because it would be so easy to lose your temper when dealing with a child, who may not be a child anymore, who is telling you that what you are doing is wrong, especially when you know the child is right. Instead of yelling at the child, it can be taken as an opportunity to improve his or her logical reasoning and critical thinking potential. As Garvin mentions on page 42, this can be done by allowing the child to question our actions, why we do them, and why or why not it is logically or morally sound.
I also find it hard to stop reading this book. Garvin throws in crystal clear examples and metaphors, and I especially love how he uses his children and students as examples. It makes it so much more realistic for me, and I almost feel as though I myself am a parent or teacher already when I am not quite there!
Questioning really is an important part of letting "frogs" develop their minds fully. I think it was great how Garvin mentioned this, especially because most parents and unfortunately some teachers begin to become so frustrated that they loose patience with the frogs.
Reading on in the book, Chapter 4 really was educational to me. The first line I really enjoyed was when Garvin said "it is important for them to see that they can touch something today that they could not reach yesterday" (pg. 26). This, both physically and metaphorically could not be more true, and can even be applied to people of all ages. Seeing your accomplishments and knowing your inability to previously do it is one of the best feelings in the world.
As others have posted about, I also found it very true that most disciplinary problems occur in the halls (pg. 27). Boys have such a short, 10 minute attention span which I found very interesting, while girls constantly need to hear their own voice. Then, there of course is the "combination lock challenge" and the whole tight space in the hallway issue that adds to these hallway problems.
Growth spurts, along with delayed developments of the body lead to all sorts of awkwardness in frogs and even social issues. Delayed youngsters almost feel threatened and inferior, while those who have gone through puberty earlier feel like they may be too developed compared to their peers.
Another interesting point Garvin mentioned was the way these frogs receive their info on sexuality: 8% from dad, 24% from mom, and the rest from their peers who know just as little on the topic as they do (usually) (pg. 35). Overall, schools definitely need more opportunities to work with parents. These kids need to avoid destruction of self concept and make sure their energy is used to help them be productive in the school setting (pg. 38).
I like the fact that you talked about how children receive the majority of their info on sexuality from peers. This is definitely a scary thing to think about especially since children really have little experience on this topic. These "frogs" are watching television shows containing sexually explicit material and therefore sex is being normalized to them. The problem with this is that one adolescent watches a show about teenagers engaging in intercourse and then goes and tells his or her friends. This becomes a vicious cycle of Middle School students just thinking that sex at such a young age is perfectly natural. Furthermore, studies have been done regarding the media and it's effects on children and sexuality. I took a class last semester where we talked about how during the majority of sexual programming and advertisements, there is no mention of condom use. This means that children are seeing people their own age having unprotected sex in the media and thinking that this is a normal, okay thing to do. As educators, we need to try and find positive and innovative ways of teaching our students about safe sex practices, the dangers of engaging in sexual intercourse at such a young age, and most importantly, that it is okay to say "no."
I like the idea of finding new and innovative ways to teach the students about sexuality. I believe the opposition may come from parents and administrators. I can tell you from my perspective I am a parent who knows that kids are definitely learning from each other. I had the joyous opportunity of my daughter (9 yrs old at the time) explaining what her friends thought the act of sex actually was. Parents have to know that "their babies" are curious and seeking information. We must figure how much info is too much.
I could not agree more with the awkwardness kids feel when they do not see themselves maturing like the rest of their peers. As Garvin stated in chapter 4, you see those students who feel inadequate slump in their seats during class or those who just refuse to sit in the front. During my time observing, I could definitely see those students who feel different from the rest, going straight to the back of the room as soon as the bell rings. It is sad and yet disturbing to see when the teacher just calls on the actively participating bunch sitting in the front of the room.
In my opinion, Garvin introduces a major problem for students involving their textbooks and assignments (Chapter 5, page 45.) Garvin explains that a large portion of the textbooks that are used for adolescents in Middle School classrooms are filled with terminology that is far too advanced or abstract for the majority of students to comprehend. Consequently, the expectations that many teachers place upon their students are equally complex, which could definitely be part of the reason why many Middle School students are not doing as well as administration would hope. The example that Garvin uses involving his own “frog,” is a prime depiction of what happens in far too many middle school classrooms. With vocabulary, for instance, words are chosen that are far too upper-level for the majority of adolescents to understand, and they are frequently introduced once and then left never touched again. What students then resort to doing is simply memorizing these words and their definitions down to an exact science. While yes, this will get the child an A on the next Vocabulary test and they will feel good about themselves in the moment, in reality, nothing is actually getting accomplished; no true learning is being achieved through this method.
Another great point addressed in this chapter is the distinction between IQ and upper-level thinking. I agree with Garvin when he says that many adults choose not to realize that just because a child has a high IQ, does not mean that he or she can do upper-level thinking. Upper level thinking is attained at all different points of adolescence and it varies per student. Making the assumption that all students who have a high IQ can do algebra, or solve mathematical problems that have abstract words in them in a foolish mistake and will only be detrimental to the student in the long run. I can remember several times in Middle School that I was in honors level classes and I absolutely despised them. There were times when I would try as hard as I could to get out of going to certain classes, whether it was walking around the hallways, pretending to be sick, or talking to my favorite teachers when I was supposed to be in class; I tried to find every single outlet possible to get out of going to these honors classes because the curriculum was too challenging for me and I couldn’t physically understand it. This is a major disservice that we are doing to these children today. Furthermore, when a child does not understand something on an individual level, he or she is very likely to go about attaining an answer in a less favorable way (Chapter 5, page 47.) No student wants to feel like a failure. A middle school child will call friends, ask parents, cheat, beg for answers, look up the textbook online and do anything else possible to attain the answer they are looking for, but are not yet matured enough to find on their own. In reality, however, what good is this really doing our students? Anyone can ask for help. The message we are sending is that if something is too hard for you, you can cheat your way into understanding, and this often times is the pattern that students fall into. Instead of choosing curriculum that is vastly inappropriate for their learning levels, we should be presenting our students with easier material that they can actually comprehend.
“Teachers need to be less concerned with the content, and more concerned with teaching the basic thinking skills required to understand the content,” explains Garvin on page 48 of Chapter 5, a statement that I agree with wholeheartedly.
Recalling upon own experience, I remember being so turned off from literature for all of 8th and 9th grade because of my 8th grade English teacher. I thought books were boring and stupid and time wasters and I remember coming home from school every single night professing how much I hated to read. Who would have thought that I would grow up to be an English teacher! Regardless, my 8th grade teacher assigned us to read “The Great Gatsby” in the spring of 8th grade. While Gatsby is absolutely my favorite book now as a college student, in 8th grade I did not understand anything that was going on, especially the major concepts that we were being tested on. I absolutely despised the book, the class, the teacher, and reading in general. I feel like my experience is something that so many students experience at least one point throughout Middle School. As teacher candidates, we need to make sure that we are picking the curriculum for the students and that it meets the needs OF the students.
While reading this text, I’ve been tempted to consider it as an easy read because of how quickly I have gotten through each chapter so far. However, in reality, it is also something that I find hard to walk away from, and hard to disconnect myself from because of how intimately these issues are connected with our own experiences. Although most, if not all of us are not yet parents, we have all 'been there’. Whether we were those 12 year olds who had to pry ourselves out of our parents’ arms or aware of this “need system” that our parents would passive-aggressively show from time to time, and whether we were that confident 30% or that confused and reluctant 70%, we were all there. The reason I can no longer consider this an easy read is because of how engaging the discussions and questions it raises about the issues that we are completely aware of, but never really delve deep in trying to understand.
Though I am a bit exhausted by the mention of age 12, it is by all means necessary. One thing that really stood out to me was all of the transitional behaviors that occur at this age. For a while I had been babysitting a girl who I met when she was 10 (she is now 12). The changes in behavior that I’ve seen over those couple of years were very subtle (from the sassy attitude to no longer saying “I love you” to mom on the phone), but oddly enough, it hit me very abruptly and they were no longer just subtle hints of change. I was dropping her off at swim practice once, and as I watched her walk away and into the aquatic center, it was like watching a different person or someone I was only now getting know. Thinking about it now makes me laugh because of how my premature maternal instincts started kicking in, and I became emotional, feeling my “need system” kicking in, wishing she was the sweet and curious 10 year old girl I had once known! I literally sat there wondering where that 10 year old girl had disappeared to until she was out of sight.
Another thing I found very interesting while reading the above comments was the analogy that Jess Barkan had made about middle school and the middle child syndrome. I, too, am a middle child with a younger brother and an older brother. Growing up, I never considered myself to suffer any of the symptoms exhibiting this so-called syndrome that distinctly separates us from our siblings. In retrospect, however, I am everything that encompasses your stereotypical middle child. My relationships with my brothers has changed over the years and it is still constantly changing. With my younger brother entering his first year of college, and my older brother entering his first year of med school, I am stuck in the middle, also trying to ‘figure out’ my life, and I won’t get into the specifics now, but it is often difficult to find my place on my parents’ spectrum of importance... which probably doesn’t even exist. The fact that I actually wonder if my parents have a spectrum of importance for their own children is ridiculous and very middle-childish!
Something very relavent and influential to the lives of "frogs" that Garvin discusses at the end of his book is the belief system that television and the media install in children and adolescents. Television sends "frogs" the message that money CAN buy them happiness, and all it takes of them to be popular and "fit in" better at school is to buy the latest Apple product or to make sure the get a Michael Kors purse from their parents for the holidays. As Garvin says they "get the message that success in life is directly related to material well-being." This leaves little room for "frogs" to see the intellectual worth that comes out of going to school because they are blindsided by the assumption that doing well in school only means getting a good job and making a lot of money.
I experienced and have seen this behavior in students from elementary school through my entire college career. Some people put so much importance on material worth that it becomes a race to the top. It becomes who has more degress, who drive the best car, what benefits your job provides, and even what private school you are able to get your children into. The competition for success through material worth never ends and children are surrounded by this on a daily basis. "Frogs" may not even come from a high socioeconomic class, yet they can still make themselves appear as if they are by saving every penny they make from birthdays and holidays to buy the newest Lily planner. Keeping up this appearance is essential for some adolescents because it means that they will not be picked on or even worse, sometimes bullied.
In general, this small book has dove into so many topics relating to the middle school years of adolescents. Not only is this an excellent resource for educators of this age group, but I can see the benefits that this book could have for parents. A lot of the time there is miscommunication between "frogs" and their parents, and this miscommunication or lack of communication can lead to isolation and a continual pattern of disagreement. If parents and educators can understand their adolescent children and students a little bit better, and understand the major changes taking place in their life, they can create a safer evironment for their "frogs" to grow into young adults.
It took me a while to begin reading this book but once I started it, I quickly read through the first four chapters. I hate to be redundant from what everyone else has been saying but it really is such an eye opener. While we've all gone through this "frog" stage in one way or another ourselves, reading about it is certainly a different entity. Learning about the explanations for some of the odd things that we did as pre-teens is entertaining to say the least and I can look back now and say that a lot of my thoughts/actions are now justified.
I was definitely the kid who came home and when asked about my day, I always answered "it was good" and then ran away to hole up in my room. I never strayed from my phone/computer screen and only really left my room if I was hungry.
One minor thing that really surprised me while reading the fourth chapter was the statistic on pre-teen girls giving birth. Over 13,000 girls have given birth in the last year and 8,000 of those had their second child. This honestly shocked me because I'm almost certain that a few decades back, this wouldn't be the case. Nowadays, as Garvin mentions, puberty hits kids at a much earlier age and so I feel like they are being forced into adolescence.
One thing's for sure, us potential middle school teachers certainly have our work cut out for us. Between students beginning to deal with the opposite sex, not having long-term goals, worrying about their body image, and not focusing enough on academics, we'll have to do our best to differentiate to focus on them as individuals.
Great post, Lucci! I totally know what you mean about retreating into a hole of a room. I think it's really interesting how adolescents really shy away from the idea of having a parent closely involved in their lives. When I was in high school I remember being completely mortified if my parents were around. I wanted my family life and friend life to be two completely different things. Nowadays, I have a much closer relationship with my parents and I actually enjoy spending time with them a lot. Keeping this in mind, I think our job in middle schools are even harder because we might be the most adult interaction these kids get all day. If they are starting to retreat and distance themselves from parents, it is up to us to make sure we are setting good examples for these "frogs" to emulate.
I completely agree with you because this book really put my middle school years in perspective for me. There were many times in this book where he might as well have been describing me. I was also shocked about how many middle school girls end up pregnant because that was not the case when we were that age. I think it has to do a lot with the media because that has changed a great deal the last few years.
It may be kind of a small thing to bring up, but I really like the section in Chapter 5 (pages 51-53) where Garvin talks about the set up of the classroom. I do not think it is a coincidence that the class in which he did the best in during Middle School was the same class that was decorated with exciting pictures and decorations all over the wall. There is definitely some value to be placed on the learning environment for students, but Middle School students in particular. What I think Middle School teachers need to remember is that in Elementary School, everything is pretty, colorful, and decorated creatively. So many Middle School teachers forget about the impact that such an environment can have on students. We need to be mindful of the transition period that these “frogs” are in, but also remember that every little thing counts to these children. Having color and decoration and fun posters on the walls will get students excited about what they are learning and it can really go a long way. Garvin even explains that 45% of “frogs” are visual learners and learn best from teachers who use a lot of pictures and visual aids. “It becomes obvious that teachers who can expect to be successful with ‘frogs’ are going to be those whose methodology is primarily visual and kinesthetic,” explains Garvin, a concept that I believe is fairly easy enough to comprehend. What I can’t comprehend is how stubborn and old fashioned some teachers can be in their refusal to adapt to what actually works. There is no reason that part of these visualizations can’t take place on the four walls of the classroom. As teachers, part of our jobs is to be innovative in any way we can. I personally feel as if decorating one’s classroom is a great way of getting students motivated about learning and can even add to comprehension of curriculum.
Along with this idea of visual aids comes the notion of in-class stimulation. Obviously, the whole driving force behind having a visual aid is to captivate the attention of the students and promote learning. Another way of being sure to captivate the attention of students is with regards to teaching methods. Those teachers who “waste time talking” are often not the ones that are engaging the minds of Middle School students and keeping them occupied (Chapter 5, page 53.) Again, we must remember that these students are used to the elementary school method of teaching, filled with a plethora of projects, activities, and exercises to keep them occupied at all times. It is very unrealistic to just expect students to switch over at the drop of a hat and accustom themselves to a lecture style. Something that I find really interesting is that according to studies, girls are usually auditory-visual learners and boys, on the other hand, are more visual-kinesthetic (Chapter 5, page 55.) This makes a lot of sense now, thinking about how I usually am able to process things. In classes that are primarily lecture-based, I find myself zoning out, falling asleep, and becoming completely disengaged. When I actually have to visually watch something or physically do something on my own, I am much more awake, and usually find the content pretty interesting. If I am experiencing this on the college level, I can only imagine how intensified it must be for students on the middle school level. These studies speak to the very important principle of differentiation, which should be incorporated somehow into every middle school classroom. Especially knowing the statistics of these studies, differentiating instruction is so important in the Middle School classroom. After reading this chapter, I definitely see why all of the methods classes that we have taken at Adelphi are so important. I consider myself very blessed and confident, knowing that I have a multitude of instructional methods in my portfolio to use in my own classroom.
I completely agree with you because I can remember walking into all of my classes in middle school and just stare at white walls with maybe 2 or 3 posters in the entire classroom. This happened in every room that I went into, and I think that was the reasons why I had so much trouble staying engaged. I have always been a visual learner and I learn best from doing hands on activities. Many of my teachers in middle school tended to lecture and read directly from the textbook, and I would not be paying attention at all. Children need to be engaged in what they are learning about and the learning environment is a major factor in keeping children engaged.
Kyle and Samantha, I 100% agree with both of you. I remember entering middle school and especially high school and wondering why the walls were so bare compared to what we are exposed to in elementary school. I am personally a visual learner, and whereas some students with attention issues may have even more difficulty focusing in a classroom with many items displayed on the walls, I benefited from such a classroom. I was lucky enough to have several middle school teachers and one particular high school teacher who deviated from the norm in their classroom set ups and decorations. There was also something new to look at and analyze in their rooms, and these pieces were not just "decorations" they were learning points and learning opportunities.
Today I finished reading the book, and I have to say that I thought it brought up a lot of good ideas for dealing with children in middle school. I went to college with the hope of becoming an elementary school teacher, but after taking all of my math classes and reading this book I wouldn't mind being a middle school teacher. This book really brought up how sensitive these children are and how much they need a teacher that cares about them and wants to get to know them. The last chapter of this book really put the idea that they want to be loved into perspective for me. They are constantly moving from class to class never really being recognized by their teacher because they only see them once a day. They need to feel special and cared for because a lot of these kids are not getting it from home. At the beginning of the chapter when he spoke about how stressful he got after sitting in traffic, I felt like he was describing me. I can't count the amount of times I was in a great mood on my drive to school only to have it ruined by the amount of traffic I hit. Some of these children have such a small ego that they turn to drugs and alcohol just to make the pain go away. Many of them will also turn to suicide because they just give up trying. Middle school teachers need to make more of an effort to show that they care for all of their students. The part of the chapter when he spoke about how gifted students never feel good enough and can turn to eating disorders really shocked me. These gifted students go overlooked all the time because so much emphasis is put on the children with special needs. I believe that focus needs to be put on all students so that they feel like they are good enough. The curriculum needs to be student centered as much as possible in order to gain a deep relationship with the students. This book was a very interesting read and I am going to take the lessons that is has provided me when I go into teaching!
I agree one hundred percent with everything that you are saying. We need to make sure that our students genuinely feel loved, that should be the number one priority of all teachers. I feel like this notion just continuously gets repeated throughout so many posts, but that is because love is genuinely the most important thing that we can give to our students. I think we all can relate to the stress that both you and the author talk about, especially if we have long commutes to school in the morning. I have seen so many teachers throughout my middle and high school experiences that have taken out their frustration on the students; this is absolutely the worst possible thing that could be done. We need to make sure that all of our interactions with our students are positive and we are not using them as emotional punching bags. I agree with you that some of these students are not getting the proper amount of love and affection in the domestic setting. It is these students that are at risk the most. If a child has no positive adult role model or figure in his or her life, it is very likely that they could resort to drugs or other negative influences. We need to make every effort to guide these "frogs" down the right path.
You bring up a great point that students really do want to be loved, as much as they may not seem like it. I think a good example of this is if a teacher stands outside the door before a class starts. Just going as far as greeting the students will go a long way because it shows the children that you are interested in them and care about them. Even if they don't say hello back, it is important they know the teacher knows their name.
The students go through such a mechanical routine every single day, especially in a middle school. This is the first time they have a schedule in which they move from one place to another all day long. It can be easy for the students to feel like robots, and the teachers really need to show interest in them and treat them like unique people, because everyone is different. Showing interest in the students can relieve their stressful emotions that they may have when moving from class to class.
I just finished the book and I think that the final chapter of Learning How to Kiss a Frog may in fact actually be my favorite chapter, and by far was the most heartbreaking. I absolutely had no idea how popular suicide ideologies were amongst adolescents and Middle School Students. The fact that there is one suicide attempt every thirty-two seconds is devastating and something that as teachers we should be working to combat (Chapter 6, page 64.) Garvin introduces many of the different causes that could provoke a youth to try and kill oneself as a result of the despair triggered by these causes. I was shocked to learn that parental and family life is a major cause of suicide amongst “frogs.” It makes sense that adolescents who are coping with the divorce process are forced to make a lot of adjustments in their lives and often times do not get to see one parent a lot. Divorce can cause tension, guilt, and stress in the life of a young “frog,” which is awful because the issue is not the ‘frog’s’ fault, but rather the fault of the parents. Growing up with a mom and dad who have always been happily married, I had no idea the trauma that something like this could bring about. After reading this chapter though, I can totally understand the feelings of alienation and abandonment that a “frog” could feel if his or her parents split up. To make this worse, 90% of single parents spend the entire day working, which can impose a great deal of stress upon “frogs” because they need to do extra work in the house and sometimes fend for themselves; especially in cases where the “frog” is the oldest of the siblings, there is an immense level of unwanted and undeserved responsibility thrust upon the poor adolescent (Chapter 6, page 65.)
Another category, which I always thought to be more common amongst “frogs” is the whole notion of not being good enough for someone else. As we have discussed before on this blog, when you are in Middle School, life is all about your friends, crushes, and social acceptance. For a 6th, 7th, or 8th grade student, when the girl or boy that you like does not like you back, it honestly feels like the end of the world, like nothing else could go wrong. Unfortunately, a great deal of these children resort to suicide or developing an eating disorder, it becomes something they can’t control. I totally agree with what Garvin suggests about making sure that school is not an additional stressor to students. Yes, school should be challenging. Yes, students should be pushed to new limits. Yes, the goal of education is for students to learn things, but we do not want to kill our kids in the process! As teachers, we absolutely NEED to understand that these are first human beings and students second. Overloading kids with homework, imposing punitive classroom management strategies, and enforcing a curriculum that is vastly too challenging is honestly doing nothing but making the school system a hostile environment. We have middle school students that are dealing with major life traumas like divorce, abandonment, and rejection. With all of these other things going on in their lives, complimented by puberty and bodily changes, how can we possibly think it is okay to expect so much of our frogs? Taking this a step further, as educators, we should know that when a child is in adolescence they are not functioning at their full potential, their minds are not yet molded and they are not yet capable of making wholly intelligent decisions for themselves.
What disturbs me more than anything in this whole chapter is not the suicides, or even the hostage situation, but the fact that during these hostage situations, the principal was unable to find at least one teacher who knew the confused “frog” well enough to talk him or her out of shooting. It is a very serious thing to take the life of oneself, or the lives of others. I believe that if these “frogs” had a nurturing adult in the building who could have calmly talked some sense into them, these situations may not have happened. I believe that it should be ESSENTIAL that teachers get to know their students on a personal level; this should not be an option. I remember that throughout Middle School I was going through a lot. My father was very sick and in out of the hospital having various surgeries. Fortunately, my father turned out okay, but I can recall several times in which I turned to teachers who welcomed me with an ear to talk to, a body to hug, and a welcoming smile. THIS is what school is about. It is about making students feel comfortable and being there for your students. You should know your students for who they are, not for what they get on the math test or how good their science project is. It is for this reason that teachers who are solely focused on academic education absolutely infuriate me. In the g
I like how you so clearly put that these frogs are people first and students second. We can't possibly expect them to learn content when they are not able to cope with life. It really takes a village to raise a child and we all definitely have to play our part in that.
Kyle, I think it is great that you pointed out that we as teachers are more than just people that teach the students new information on a subject. It is much more important for us to be compassionate and trustworthy to the students, because they may need us to be more than just teachers. Like you said, some students may need a person to lean on, or an ear to talk to. We need to reach the kids on a personal level, because that is the most important thing.
And honestly, the important things I learned in middle school and high school were not about the subject material, but it was how my favorite teachers treated the students. Even simple things teachers do will go a long way for the middle school students.
Kyle you have a lot of great insights regarding this last chapter of the book. In my undergraduate studies I was fortunate enough to take an elective course with Professor Jessica Klein, author of "The Bully Society," where we dove into great detail about adolescent suicide and school shootings. The statistics Garvin presents in his book go hand in hand with what I was taught in Professor Klein's class. Sometimes society has difficulty looking past what they may see as the major headlines or television broadcast titles where school shooters are mostly described as having psychological imbalances or depression and bipolar disorder. Most news story do not go beyond these accusations to discuss what that student was lacking in his or her home life or school life. This is why I agree with you that if some of the "frogs" who went so far as to commit suicide or a school shooting had a nurturing adult in their school building or a school community where there was no tolerance for bullying, these situations could have been avoided.
I am now at the halfway mark. When reading about these "frogs" being self-conscious, I immediately think about one of my students who wrote that her goal for the school year was to lose 50 pounds when the rest of the class said to do better in school, do homework and study hard. This made me look at her differently and showed me that puberty is severely affecting her. It really made me sympathize, although that isn't something a teacher should necessarily be doing. I cannot empathize because of never feeling that way but I can totally understand the vaguer reality of puberty.
Not only is self esteem an issue for her, but when I look around at my 7th graders, it is more than obvious that the boys are shorter than the girls and that it can sometimes be emasculating for them. The other day, I actually witnessed one of my female students push/shove one of my male students in the hallway and as he fell to the ground, she was laughing and he had such an uncomfortable look on his face. I didn't know what to do in the event I witnessed, so I froze, but another teacher I was with asked what was going on.
I am not 100% sure what to do in these kind of situations having to do with the interactions between these puberty stricken frogs.
When it came to using the term "shrimp" to describe a tinier boy, I remember my dad always calling my little brother that and how badly it affected him. He started swimming and joining other sports to lose weight and bulk up so my dad would stop. He would cry because he felt inadequate about his weight and height. I didn't realize boys sometimes felt more pain than girls.
I never knew about the hand-eye coordination explanation regarding lockers, so I found that extremely interesting. It made me think back to when I had to unlock my locker and how frustrated I used to get when I couldn't do it.
I also remember the independent-dependent behavior. I always wanted the freedom from my parents, yet still wanted them to control me at times because I couldn't do some things on my own.
Regarding the school bus, it was a very terrifying time until I grew older and then I was the oldest on the bus. Before that, I witnessed a lot of bullying and tormenting going on. It was always very rough on the bus for girls over the boys in my experiences.
During the sections where bodies are talked about being on display in front of the class, I recalled just the other day when I was being observed by my supervisor and she told me it was shocking that my tiniest student (a female) was volunteering to write on the Smartboard because she thought that the student might be self-conscious about her size. I never thought about that before and then remembered back to when I had to go up to the board and realized there were times of being scared that the boys were looking at me or girls were judging me for my clothes. It is a scary time to be displayed.
Parents really do need to start realizing the age of their kids before they treat them like babies because they look like it. I can completely empathize considering I look 15 at most, live with my parents and they still treat me like I am 12 years old. It is the most frustrating thing in the world. The other day I got so annoyed that I actually asked my mom whether she still wanted to change my diaper because she was treating me like such a baby. Of course, I am not a parent yet, so I can't look at it from the other side, but parents at least need to take a step back and think before they act/speak to "frogs."
Puberty is a very scary time, and once again it is something that really scared me about going into a middle school. My students show me everyday that they need love and this book is only helping me realize how much,
I think it's really interesting that your supervisor pointed out the students size to you. That almost makes me question how he/she would treat the student since her size was what came to mind. I have never looked at any one student and thought "Wow, I'm surprised they're at the board because they're so small." I think that unless I knew for a fact that the student was self conscious and refused to go to the board my mind would focus more on their academic confidence. Just seems odd, but then again it shows what the author is discussing - sometimes frogs are treated one way or another depending on their appearance. Your supervisor may treat that student differently if their focus in on their height not academic ability.
As I read about the authors experience with National Geographic magazine, you know, catching a glimpse of naked women, my mind went immediately to the media of today. Sex is EVERYWHERE. It is somewhat unnerving that today sex is available on every technology. Children have access to the internet and as we have all mentioned at some point I'm sure in our posts, the internet can be a dangerous place. It worries me that frogs may end up with unrealistic ideas of what sex is, or should be. It also worries me that their view on body image can be influenced by these things as well. Sex has become so casual - there are even movie titles referencing it: "Friends With Benefits" with Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Ultimately they end up together in a relationship, but do movies like this promote casual sex? Are frogs mature enough to understand that "friends with benefits" should be for two consenting adults, and not for young adolescents not necessarily comfortable in their own skin? Does the media promote the use of another for sex? Make it ok? The movie "Bridesmaids" the main character played by Kristin Wiig is sleeping with a man who is clearly only using her, and even asks for sexual favors from her after helping her out by picking her up when her car breaks down. Again, the character doesn't follow through, but this is rated PG-13 - not R. Our ratings seemed to have gone down and so much more is acceptable. There was even something going around on Facebook about sexual innuendos in kids movies. How Disney (whether intentionally or accidentally) has sex popping up in indirect ways. Where is the line? How does this impact our fragile frogs trying to find themselves in the world, and be comfortable all at the same time?
I agree. I feel as though the line keeps getting thinner and thinner; in some places, I feel as though it is nonexistent. I was a part-time nanny over the summer and the 7 year old girl and her 10 year old brother insisted on watching Zombieland, which is rated R. I had never seen the movie, but I knew it would be inappropriate so I initially told them no. They both proceeded to tell me the plot of the movie and certain quotes from it to prove that they had both seen it multiple times and that it was okay for them to watch. I could not believe it - I remember it was a huge deal when my parents let me start watching PG-13 movies, let alone R. And I was definitely in middle school when that even started happening. It is crazy how much these young kids are exposed to nowadays.
Great point that the lines keep getting thinner and thinner, I notice every day that my brother gets a lot more slack than I used to get when I was a middle school student.
Although, it is a different world now. There is so much more technology in the world, both with cell phones and social media. They are much more common, and I think the kids have easier access to things that maybe they shouldn't be seeing, like your example of rated R movies. But like we have been talking about, in middle school years the students are very curious and they start to think they are more grown up.
I definitely agree with Tara's comment! It is crazy how these frogs are growing up quicker then we did in middle school due to the media. I feel that the media creates the image/idea that everyone is having sex and that being skinny/ having the perfect body is what defines a female as beautiful. On page 35 of this book it states, "What we experienced at the age of fifteen or sixteen is now experienced by frogs eleven or twelve years old". Television, social media, commercials, etc. give adolescents a range of mature ideas and concepts that should be kept hidden from them until they are older. With media/ technology, information is too readily available and students want to get involved in anything that will boost up their popularity/reputation and/or will make them appear "mature". Question is: Is this media really causing these frogs to grow up/ mature quicker due to the knowledge of more information/ ideas or are students getting involved in experiences at too young of an age?
I finished this text and I really enjoyed this read a lot. It was very eye opening in many ways and provided me with insights about young adolescents that I had forgotten having grown out of that phase. It's still mind blowing to me how much in the reading reminded me of my own youth and how much I had forgotten about what it was like for me going through that period in my life.
Something that is really concerning to me, and to Garvin as well, is this idea that the education system is focusing less and less on what makes these "frogs" who they are and spending more time on raising scores and academic standards. This is, of course, an aspect of education that we need to some extent to make sure the kids are learning and are moving forward, but at what price? Garvin makes a good point about how kids need a feeling of community and appreciation on page 70; however, with every move towards standardized testing and teaching to those tests, we lose ground in that area that kids need the most and they begin to look for it in other places. As educators, I believe our job is not only to teach our subject material, but to encourage and provide support for our students by whatever means we have in our power.
There is so much in the media, as Garvin stated and some others have posted already, trying to plant false ideas of happiness into the minds of these "frogs", whether these ideas are true, false, helpful, or harmful, in order to achieve a monetary gain. School may be the only place "frogs" may find a positive, supportive outlet and if teachers aren't providing that in their classrooms, who is?
This book definitely was eye opening for me as well. Although it seems like only yesterday I was in middle school, I have gone through so many different changes and events in my life that I have not received the chance to really think about how I felt and what went on in my life during these young adolescent years.
I also think we need to focus our careers as educators on supporting these frogs as they go through this time in their life. Of course, the education system sort of forces us to spend a great deal of time getting good academic results, but there is a way we can incorporate that & being supportive of our students at the same time. This is what makes being a middle school teacher such an important job.
I just read over the section about stress on page 63 and at the bottom of the page it says, "stress often causes irrational behavior, and the best way to cure it is ego strength." I really like this because I think it applies for everyone, not only just middle school students. Personally, if I am having a stressful day and someone tells me everything is fine or says something nice to me, it makes me feel a whole lot better.
With regards to middle school students, they are going through a very stressful time as well. However, they are going through different stresses in which we all went through a very long time ago, which can make it harder to relate to. And students are going to deal with stress very differently as well. Some may act out, while others may just bottle up everything. The middle school teacher should be able to recognize these issues and deal with them appropriately.
I agree with your idea that students stress levels are different and "the middle school teacher should be able to recognize these issues and deal with them appropriately". I think a teachers job goes beyond teaching a math, science, ELA, or history lesson. Classroom management is key for maintaining a respectful, friendly, welcoming environment where students feel safe. I think if a teacher has good management skills he/she can deal with issues like misbehaving etc. appropriately.
I agree with what you say about the quote on page 63. When I am stressed out, I know I can talk to certain people in my life who will give me a boost of confidence and the strength I need to keep pushing through my day/week. Middle school students definitely can become overwhelmed, going through their physical changes, hormones raging, and even changes with friends or school life. Middle school students may bully others, cry, act dangerously or even isolate themselves as a way of coping with their stress. Others may find time to do positive things to relax them, such as going for a run or reading a book. We, as future middle school teachers, need to recognize when students seem too stressed out, and act accordingly to avoid our students from going into "overload".
I agree that ego strength could significantly help anyone when they are stressed. I think that many students in Special Ed now have so many anxiety issues because their self esteem was pushed so far down in main stream ed. So many of my students are so stressed out all the time because they were bullied so frequently in their other schools. They often give up before even trying because they have been knocked down by so many others, including some of their teachers. It's a real shame that these things happen to people, especially to children.
I think when teachers get caught up in lessons and assessments and other logistics of the classroom, sometimes they forget the most important part of teaching, which is being positive role models for the students, and just acting like normal people. I think communicating with the students and making them feel good about themselves is much more meaningful than the content being delivered. The most meaningful lessons the students learn may not even be about the content, it may be about becoming a better person.
"Learning How to Kiss a Frog,” reminded me of my Elementary and Middle School experiences. Not only did it bring back memories but it also made me realize how different the lives of middle school students are today both physically and mentally as apposed to when I was growing up. According to chapter four, “it is quite an eye- opening experience to visit a typical middle-level school and see girls in the sixth grade with tight pants, low cut blouses, makeup, and the sexiest walk you’d ever expect to see”. While reading this chapter I was bothered by the sad realities of the appearances of children so young. I think the media and this materialistic world we live in presently, is fostering young children’s perception on successes. Chapter five states, “Frogs watch TV and get messages that success in life is directly related to material well being”. Success should not be about external things but rather internal knowledge, strength and power. I think children have so many standards they live by, like trying to look like their 35-year-old favorite actress/actor and they forget about just living simple and enjoy the beauty of being a “kid”. It is unfortunate because, those children who mature slower or don’t have the money to afford the “hip/cool” things are the ones who are more likely to be affected socially, emotionally and mentally. Chapter five states, “suicide is one of the leading causes of death for early adolescents”. I think a lot of these unfortunate cases have to do with the world around them and feelings of not fitting in or belonging. I think children who come from less fortunate families do not get enough parental support and feel alone. I think it is very important to realize that “building good mental health requires that we feel the need to be apart of a community. We need to know that we belong and are important and appreciated.” It is a teachers job to not only teach a curriculum and assess children’s knowledge but to build our students internal ego’s. Advisory programs and simple every day encouragement goes a long way. This text taught me that a teacher should be aware of his/her students on a personal level and try their best to be their “dock” and emotional support mentor when they are feeling insecure. More importantly, a teacher should make children realize that success comes from within and with hard work and perseverance they can reach their dreams. A teacher should form lessons that foster critical thinking and hands on activities that keep children focused, involved and engaged. They need to be able to make connections to the bigger picture: their futures. Teachers need to help students realize how learning about something like addition and multiplication can help them throughout their entire lives not just in elementary and middle school.
I completely agree with you!! It's crazy to see how girls dress these days in middle school because of what they see in the media. My mom and dad would never let me wear the stuff girls are wearing these days when I was in middle school. They are so focused on how they look that they aren't focused on what they are learning in school. They all want to be noticed and popular and that is the most important thing to them!
Chapter 5 was a really important chapter to me, focusing on frogs reasoning and questioning. First, Garvin made a point to mention how a teacher should NEVER discourage frogs from asking questions. They should also always ask them questions and wait patiently for the frogs to respond. To help upper level thinking, have the students elaborate on their responses, which may also help students to understand the material better than when they read it or had it explained by the teacher. It was shocking and sad that only 55% of adults in the US can do upper-level thinking.
"Students need to have a good attitude about literature and algebra, and teachers need to make sure necessary thinking skills are taught beforehand" (pg 47-48). I found this quote extremely important. Thinking skills are often expected, but not taught. Literature is crucial for students to succeed in high school reading. Thus, teachers should focus more on thinking skills rather than content.
We must be able to "pitch the ball where kids could hit it" (pg. 52). Just because a student does well in one level of a course does not mean they will excel in a more difficult level of that same course. We sometimes expect too much from our students. We also must try to reach all of our different types of learners: auditorially, visually, and/or kinesthetically. This is very important to be an effective middle school teacher!
I like that you pointed out how teachers need to teach thinking skills. I think that the real issue is, many teachers don't know how. We are all so caught up with how we were taught, and how we learned material that it becomes difficult to step away from that and reevaluate the educational system. This is why more professional development should be available and even expected of teachers.
I completely agree with you that we tend to expect too much from students based on how well they do in one subject. Just because a kid is excelling in one subject does not mean they should automatically be pushed to an upper level. If they are doing well in the class, they should be able to stay in that class instead of moving to a class that will be harder for them. I can't count the amount of times I did well in one of my classes in middle school and my guidance counselor wanted me to move into the honors or AP program, but I wasn't ready. I ended up having a very hard time because of how fast paced the classes were!
I think one of the things that [pardon the word choice] screwed me up the most in Middle School was my idea—and my teachers' idea—that because I excelled in English I must then excel at every other subject. Actually, I did very well in all of my regular level classes, and I suppose (perhaps rightfully so) I was moved up into Honors levels in everything in 7th grade. It was more work than I'd ever had to do in my life, and I wasn't ready for any of it. Not only did I stop doing as well as I had before, I began failing miserably. I stopped doing any of my work, since it seemed to me I was only going to do poorly on it anyway, and what was the point of wasting my time on it? I don't think I did it willfully, or angrily — I was very sad and ashamed about the whole thing, and I had trouble coping.
But if teachers tend to think that, because you're good in one subject you must be good in all others, then the reverse is especially true.
After 7th grade, my 8th grade schedule was a mess. I was back in mostly regular classes, but they'd also given me some remedial classes as well. Including in English. Despite the failure that was my 7th grade experience, I'd never once dipped below a comfortable level in my English classes. But here I was, 8th grade and in English Support to accompany my Regents English classes.
I remember very clearly how, in the second week of school, my English Support teacher asked me why I was there.
I could have asked myself the same question, really. When I'd succeeded in one (or a few) classes, I'd been leveled up in all of my classes. When I'd started failing in a few classes, I'd been leveled down in all of my classes. Why was I being downgraded in the classes I was still doing well in, when it was the other classes I needed help with?
As teachers, the majority of our interaction with our students is going to be in our own classroom, and we're going to judge them primarily by their successes and their failures IN our classroom. It's easy to write off a student who does poorly in our class as someone who just performs poorly across the board, and it's easy to assume that the students who do well in our classes do well in everything else.
But I know how that mentality almost irrevocably twisted almost two years of my schooling experience, and I try to remind myself now and again that I can't allow myself to think this way. I can't look at a student who consistently gets 70s in my class as an all-around failure. It's possible that my class simply isn't their first priority (and, teaching English, I know that its importance is not as stressed by parents as I might like). I can't assume that my star student isn't having troubles and difficulties elsewhere (which might very well affect their emotional health, or performance in my class down the road). Even more importantly, I can't let my students feel that their performance—good or bad—in any class should negatively impact their own perception of their successes elsewhere. They shouldn't feel guilty for being good in one class but not another, and they shouldn't feel discouraged that they're not doing well in this class and forget that they're doing well in that class. Our little froggies need as much support as they can get!
I like the quote you used in your post how students need to have a good attitude. I believe, in the classroom a "good" attitude is important. I see it like a chain reaction: the teachers attitude reflects on the students attitude. For example, if the teacher promotes a negative attitude by being unenthusiastic and monotoneous, I think the students will act in a similar manor causing the whole classroom attitude to be negative. Like you said we need teachers to focus on positive thinking skills who enjoy what they do for a living.
Chapter 5 put a lot of things about middle school students into perspective for me. The chapter stated that 12 year olds acquire a new potential to reason differently and actually THINK. I can't seem to remember when the "click" happened to me, but it made me realize that it does happen and is most clear cut at this age. The other day, I was able to experience one of my students "click" a concept together and it was just amazing. He actually thought about what we learned and connected it to the lesson before I even had the chance to go over it. I was beyond happy.
I have also been able to witness my 12 year old cousin have her "ah,ha!" moments where she just thinks instead of speaking for the sake of speaking, although that obviously still happens.
Staying on the topic of my puberty-stricken cousin, I find myself getting completely frustrated with her. I know that we should be helping them develop, but I just become so annoyed that I want to strangle her instead of sit down and try to understand her POV. The same goes with the 7th grader I tutor. I felt like I was writing her essay for her, when in reality, I don't take into account the fact that maybe she really isn't completely capable of writing the way I think she can (correct sentence structure and grammar). Reading this book is helping me calm down about having these high expectations for kids who really aren't at the level I think they are at.
When it comes to helping our frogs defend their answers, I think that both sides become frustrated because we both want to give/be given the answer.It is the easiest way out, but taking the easy route doesn't always reap the best benefits.
Especially now with student teaching, I am not sure what questions are appropriate for their grade level and I am always asking my cooperating teacher whether my questions are structured where they can understand and be able to also continue on a higher level of thinking. Slowly, I am learning how to help my frogs.
Jess, I also find myself struggling with making sure questions are appropriate for the grade level I am creating lesson plans for. It is difficult to come up with questions that will challenge students, but will not completely go over the students' heads. I am starting to learn that as academic standards become more second nature to us as we plan our lessons, that it will also be easier for us to determine appropriate questions for any age level.
You make a really valid point about the expectations for these students. I think it's very difficult for us as teachers, or just as adults to accept the limitations of someone younger than us - and it comes from a good place. You expect them to be capable of more because you believe in them, but it's difficult to step back and allow them to do things on their own.
While finishing this book, chapter 6 stood out to me the most. Garvin states that "somehow what happens in school is so stressful that these youngsters perceive they can no longer deal with life" (64). Many young "frogs" do not know how to manage their stress and resort to harmful alternatives. Some of these awful "alternatives" include suicide, drug/alcohol abuse, anorexia/bulimia, and running away from home. Students that resort to these ways of coping with stress from school are crying out for help. Adolescents need constant love and support from adults to help them manage/ get rid of their stress.
As educators and parents, we need to show adolescents that we are there to help them when they are experiencing issues in school or even outside of school. I love the quote, "Keep in mind that adults who have the patience and can kiss these "frogs" on a regular basis will make all the difference in the world" (p.71). All adolescents need is that one adult that will be able to positively change their lives.
I, too, thought chapter 6 was really insightful and important. It is sad to me that some students perceive what goes on in school so stressful and/or out of their control that they take their own lives. We really need to be able to decrease this stress in students, and be attentive to when they are overwhelmed in order to show support and love. By showing love and creating a warm, community-like classroom, we can positively change the lives of these frogs, and maybe even prevent them from doing something devastating.
Taylor, I completely agree with you that it is our duty as teachers to help these students that are struggling. We have to be able to notice the signs that a student is reaching out for help even when they are not comfortable enough to reach out to us. So many young kids are abusing drugs and ending our lives because they feel that no one cares about them. This is especially true in middle school because this is when children are experiencing bullying and peer pressure the most.
Considering some personal things that are going on with my family right now, I could have cried reading this, the last chapter. I almost couldn't get through it, it hit so close to home in some points. I don't know if reading this chapter helped much with giving any insight into trying to fix anything concerning -that-, but it did bring up a lot of good points.
I think, for a lot of educations, there's so much fear of going overboard, or of someone taking the wrong thing, that we withhold our love from our students. Not just our support, but our honest compassion for this small human being who needs so much of it. Especially in high school, moving away from middle school for a moment, it's easy for almost all compassion to be lost altogether. By that point, you're either a good student, average, or a lost cause. And as a teacher, you might be friendly with a few students, but there's so much pressure not to show or do too much (sometimes for good reason) that it's almost like you're confined into a little box. You want to reach out, but you're too stuck and you can't.
And it's just as important to show love and support to all ages of kids. Even the most loved and doted-upon middle schooler stands to benefit from teachers who show compassion. It emphasizes their love of learning, feeling like they're in a safe, caring environment, and makes sure that their lives are filled with love in all corners. And for kids who may not be so loved at home, or given so much attention, then the importance of that love is twice or thrice as important. What the hell is the point of education if we don't use it to IMPROVE student lives, beyond what's written in a text book or on curriculum? In that way, I envy private schools their ability to do more of what they want, instead of the crunch that public schools have to go through to meet standards that end up pushing compassion to the wayside.
There were so many parts of this chapter that shook me to the core, but I think the part that got me most came at the very end — that we as adults have to understand students so "we as adults can stop blaming ourselves for their behavior and put our energies into building positive experiences". I think that, through years of learning about student needs and curriculum requirements and everything in between, I forgot my own feelings. Not just as a teacher, but as a person who stresses out about how her students are doing, both emotionally and academically. Who reads an essay three times looking for SOMETHING to give them a better grade, because I can't stand giving them another low score. Who feels guilty over a student's failures or worries, even when it's not always the fault of my teaching. The idea that I'm allowed to stop blaming myself is revolutionary. So revolutionary, in fact, that, where I am right now, I don't think I'm capable of believing it. I still blame myself for a lot of things. But maybe soon I'll be able to take this advice to heart, and teach to the best of my abilities while accepting that some things I just have no control over, but that I can still be the effective, understanding, compassionate teacher that I dream of being.
On page 56, the author discusses the connection to playing video games and to being a visual/kinesthetic learner. Working in a special ed school, we are all about different learning styles, but I have NEVER made a connection like this before. I find it interesting but also often become concerned about just how much technology is involved in our daily life. Ironically today, I had to discuss the school code of conduct with my homeroom. One of the policies is that personal electronic devices are not allowed on between 8:35 AM and 3:00 PM except during lunch time. My students were in an uproar questioning what they could possibly do with themselves without their games. My assistant teacher and I laughed and said, "Um, you could try talking to one another?!" Now I know that many of my students have socialization issues and their electronics are a means of avoidance, but take a typical teenager and it's often the same thing.
I think that technology is wonderful and should be incorporated in the classroom. I think that video games make sense for those who learn best in those ways, but then I also consider the types of video games these pre-teens/teens are playing. Things like Grand Theft Auto are absolutely repulsive in my opinion (my apologies to those of you who are fans), but I fear it desensitizes so many young people who really may not know better.
I suppose that I veered away to the learning component of the point I was trying to make, but it really comes down to the quality of technology used and whether or not the use of it poses beneficial outcomes.
Tara, I completely agree with you about how useful technology can be in the classroom and that it comes down to the quality of it. Children these days love anything thats electronic, and I feel that incorporating this into the classroom will get them more engaged in what they are learning about. Instead of having them play video games, video games can be incorporated into math word problems. Children will be able to connect with what they're learning about, and be more interested in what they are learning about.
You are so right that teachers should use technology in a meaningful way in the classroom, and not just because they think they have to. I think there are a lot of when people feel obligated to incorporate technology in the class, but it may seem unnecessary or forced. The quality of the integration of technology is what really matters. I also think integrating technology into the classroom can have pros and cons, because if it is not used effectively, the technology may disengage the students rather than further engage them in the lesson. For me, video games would probably distract me from a lesson if it was not used the right way.
I just finished reading the entire book, and I really think the last chapter was SO important. The main idea Garvin focused upon was stress and the ways in which frogs tend to deal with it. Teens tend to experience a great deal of "disappointments" rapidly during this time period, leading to stress and feelings of despair. It was extremely sad to read that 1 in every 32 seconds we loose a frog to suicide (pg 64). These suicides using revolve before, during, or after school, and is due to the lack of ego strength to be able to overcome whatever obstacle they are facing.
It was interesting to read that most of these suicide attempts, and even cases of bulimia/anorexia occur in students who are gifted and talented. Also, that many of these frogs came from fractured families, especially with single parents. They constantly feel the need to do better, and feel they have let everyone down when they cannot do so. Middle schools definitely need more time to find ego support through adults in the school building (pg. 66).
Also, middle school teachers need to focus on creating a tighter community, where self-esteem and self-worth can blossom for every single student. We must be more concern with mental health of the frogs, not just their grades. We need to focus on building a positive environment, where closeness, warmth, and caring love is at the center.
Overall, this book has taught me that we must be PATIENT! We should be putting energy into building/creating a positive experience for them throughout middle school's entirety. These kids need to know they are loved, that they are special, and that they should reach for their full potential always.
I completely agree with your post! Many teachers are too concerned with the idea that they need to teach these young "frogs." Yes, of course that is what teachers are there for, but young adolescents also need to be guided through life. Teachers need to be there to support each student through struggles they be dealing with at school or at home. If teachers are there to listen to each student, the amount of students that commit suicide, become anorexic/ bulimic, run away, etc. will most likely decrease.
These "frogs" just want to be loved. Patience is the perfect word to describe the overall message of this book. Garvin is trying to tell us, as new teachers, that patience is key.
Yes, patience is key! Spending the appropriate amount of time getting to know our students, making them feel at home, and encouraging them to do their best is absolutely vital and something that I think often gets pushed aside. A tighter community is important and I totally agree with the fact that we must focus on the mental health of our frogs just as much as, if not more than, their grades and academic performance.
Upon finishing this book, the part that really stood out to me was how adolescents have trouble managing stress which often leads to suicide. Garvin explains that students that suffer from this are unable to handle stress and lack ego strength. Some of these children come from broken homes where they suffer from the stress of their parents' divorce, other students that struggle with this unmanageable stress are students in advanced or gifted programs.
It's so important to develop advanced or gifted programs that allow students to challenge themselves without causing so much unmanageable stress.
Garvin also mentioned that students that were involved in school shootings were found to not have relationships with any of their teachers in school. It is extremely important for all students to have at least one teacher that they feel comfortable to go to for support. This will allow students to feel that they have a support system outside of their homes (especially if they come from high-stress or broken homes). This reminded me of the MAP program that was established when I was in middle school. MAP was a 15-minute short period in between first and second period every day (the last Friday of the month was considered "extended MAP" and was 40 minutes long. Each MAP class was made up of one teacher or staff member and around 12-15 students (3 or 4 from each grade). MAP was a time where we could reflect and talk about the theme for that week, or try to resolve any problems we have with the input from our MAP teacher or our peers. Having students from each grade was important too because it showed us that we had support coming from everywhere in school.
When I was in 8th grade and this program was just beginning, I had felt that it was such a waste of time. I looked at it as an extra 15 minutes to finish up any homework that I had forgotten to do the night before. Last summer (7 years after I had graduated middle school), I was at a party with my co-workers from the summer camp I work at. These two random guys came up to me and asked me, "Is your name Nicole?.. I know this is random but we were in your MAP class in middle school." At the very same party, we ran into two other girls that happened to also be in our MAP class. (That was five out of twelve of us at the same party 7 years later). It made me realize that even after only being in that class for 15 minutes every day, and even though I thought it was a waste of time, it was really great that we were able to reconnect after seven years. When we were in middle school, I was in 8th grade and they were in 5th and 6th grade, I was able to show them that 8th graders aren't intimidating and we were just like them!
I really enjoyed reading this book! It showed me a lot of things that I had overlooked about middle school and made many connections for me in my life as an adolescent.
I also found it so important to focus on teacher-student relationships. However, I find in today's world, it is very important to make sure it is an appropriate relationship, where we stay on the fine line of teacher vs. friend. I thought your school's idea of MAP was a really neat way to keep students on page with everyone in their grade along with their teachers.
Learning to kiss a frog talks about Youngsters between the ages of eleven and fifteen. The children at these age are going through an awkward period, behaving inconsistently, intensely curious, preoccupied with self, experiencing mood swings, needing to feel capability and independency. These are the results of critical physical, intellectual, social and emotional development, not of poor parenting or schooling. As a adult and their teacher, it is our responsibility to understand the major changes occurring in order to help these youngsters develop to their fullest and brightest potential.
When children goes to middle school, their behaviors change a lot, most parents are confused about their children's behavior, and they are stressed as well. These parent also need support from home and school. Since in elementary school, the children would come home tell the parents about school, activities, friends and their teachers. But when children start going to middle school they like to feel as if they are in “control” of their parents when other frogs are around. The children usually don’t hate their parents, they just don't want their parent hugging and kissing them in front of their friends. They don't want to be seen as a kid, or treated like a kid. The frogs are just moving into a larger world. They are in difficult position, they don't like kid s stuff, they are not part of a grown up world; they like to live in a imaginary world. These children are learning to "search and separate", and parents should let them go too. This is important chapter of their life, they try to figure themselves out from their friends point of view. They don' like to want to deal with the real world. Consequences are not part of their world, which makes parents role as a disciplinarian even more difficult.
I really like chapter 6, the stress of being a "frog". Usually we talk about children's behavior, their grades, and etc. We never talk about their stress. Stress create the irrational behavior among frogs. We have to look at what is happening to this age level to see the signs of stress. These children have unmanageable stress, this leads to stress. Children are stressed about their parents getting a divorce. They are trying hard to put the mom and dad back together and they keep failing and it increases the stress. There are usually no adults to help them cure their stress. So, they find some friends who have similar problems and they tend to stick together. Since, they are not getting any help from home, there should be someone in school to help them overcome their problems. Teachers should look for the stress signs. Children's usually take blames on them and think everything is their fault. Someone has to help them realize that it isn't their fault. We must see to it that they are in the right place and with the right people who can help them recognize and release their potential in a manner that enhances human life itself.
I completely agree with you saying that children usually take blame and think that unfortunate events are their fault. Teachers and parents should absolutely keep an eye out for these signs so that students don't reach the level of some of the more serious reactions that the text mentions like drug use and suicide.
Chapters 3/4 were real eye openers how important these awkward stages are for our youngsters. What really caught my attention in Chapter 3, was when Garvin said, "They will envision themselves as indestructible, immortal human beings". I wasn't sure whether to think that was a good or bad thing, or something I should be worried about. We all know that these youngsters go through that phase where they think they are being leaders of their own lives, when in fact they are being followers of the lives of their peers and friends. It is a concern that any educator and even parent has because throughout these changes they limit themselves immensely as what they wish to share with us. It is during these times where most of these youngsters begin trying things out thinking they are indeed indestructible, immortal, and invisible human beings. As Garvin stated in Chapter 3, "...while in this transition period, most of these kids could not care less where this boat is going...". This is especially true in school. They do not care about their grades, or about completing homework. I am currently observing in a 7-12 High School, and during my last visit I definitely saw a girl who did not care at all what her teacher wanted from her. Apparently, she had been very talkative those last few weeks that the TA and the teacher had decided to move her seat. As soon as class started they told her that it would be better if she moved her seat to the front of the row by the window. She refused and remained in her seat. After numerous times of repeating themselves the TA stepped out and the teacher told her to sit tight that she would let her know what she had to do. Throughout the time the TA was out looking for the Dean, she kept telling her friends that she didn't care and even saw some humor in the situation that obviously frustrated her teacher. After being taken away happily by the Dean, I started to think was this the best approach? Maybe not one of the best ways to handle it, but she did need her seat moved. I think that the best way they could have handled it was to no exclude just her out of the bunch of girls that were talking constantly. Her attitude wasn't much help either but the fact that she saw herself as the only person in the class moving, might have had a lot more to do with it than the fact that she just didn't want to move.
Chapter 4 was also very interesting when Garvin mentioned the time students get right after the bell rings and they move to their next class. In the classrooms I have seen almost all the teachers step out into the hallway and check on the students passing by. I too have also been caught in between the plethora of children moving from class to class and have heard the difference of language they use in class and outside of class. Their inner potty mouths come out and boy do these kids have mouths! In those 5 minutes they have to move from class to class, anything can happen! As Garvin stated in Chapter 4, "Research clearly shows that over half of the disciplinary problems in middle level schools occur in the halls". And they do. I have literally only caught glimpses of things, but imagine what I haven't seen or heard, or better yet, what the teachers haven't seen or heard.
I think that this was a great read. Garvin really was able to help the reader see the world from the eyes of a frog. I feel that this book helped me go back and remember what it was like at that age and therefore allowing me more patience and understanding when working with my students. It is so easy to get caught up in your own stuff in life that you often forget to see things from a different perspective. I think what I took away most from the book is that we have to be the role models. We have to be the ones to show these frogs that things will be ok in the end and that they have to keep their heads up and look to the future. We need to guide them to make the right choices, and learn from when they don't. Life is tough for frogs, and we shouldn't forget it!
As current or future educators I think we forget that we were once adolescents. Reading the book I can still see my adolescent self in the examples. As educators we must remember that at one point in our lives we were in that awkward stage of development. The moments we felt the world revolved around us. No one (adults) understood the trials and tribulations of our lives. Once we are placed in their (the kids) environment we must remember that what they believe to be important is important to them at that very moment. The same way it was important to us at ages 10-14.
Ehehe - I think I said much the same in a previous reply! Understanding that we've forgotten what it was like to be this young can be a blow to the confidence (ouch, am I really getting that old?), but it can also help us open ourselves up to understanding kids this age again. Once we open ourselves up to realizing that, okay, we're adults, and they're kids, but we're all PEOPLE, we can really begin to help them grow and understand the world around them in real, genuine ways. It helps us avoid being patronizing, to remember that the joys and dramas of middle school and high school for US were, at the time, the most grown up things we'd ever done. They were REAL. As teachers, we can't afford to dismiss these things as "oh, the simple minded troubles of youth" — I'm pretty sure there's no more certain a way to lose all of a kid's respect than to have that kind of attitude.
While reading Chapter 4, "Growing Pains," and how the author describes the scene as 2000 school children move about the hallway, it got me thinking about my own experiences in grade school, and how much that he had described the children doing, had happened in my school as well. The guys in my class liked to physically antagonize each other, much to the dismay of our teachers, but it was more of a display and less about physical dominance. Some of the guys in the class that had hit puberty early wanted to show off their growing bodies to the girls of the class, and how they were more mature physically than the others. Their mental maturity on the other hand remained unchanged.
Concerning Chapter 5, "The Learning Potential of Frogs," we read about newly developing abilities of adolescents to think about things, and what they mean. Now children are more likely to question their environment and what's happening around them, to try and correct what they see as wrong. The example of the child in the car, he doesn't fully understand why the parent is speeding, all he knows is that the parent is speeding, and how much faster than the law he is driving. They understand the risks of breaking the rules, but not why people break them.
I'm just totally hooked on the very last part of your reply. This idea that kids see that rules are broken (or see that things are done in general), but they don't yet understand why people do these things, or what the mentality or rational is that allows for things to happen. It seems like the core of the word "impressionable" to me, which I would argue is one of the most central descriptors of youth and adolescence in general.
Impressionability is one of the key factors in getting kids to learn, but it is ALSO one of the most heinous obstacles to getting kids to learn. Just like you said kids are growing and learning and showing off and picking up the good and the bad of what adults do around them, impressionability can also greatly increase learning potential by instilling in kids good habits and, hopefully, a genuine love (or at least interest) in learning and growing. But if kids don't understand the "why" of the things they do, or of the things the people around them do, are they really learning good habits, or just empty ones?
I remember when I was at this stage of development, a lot of guys tried to assert physical dominance. It happened in the hallway from time to time, but the locker room before and after gym was the worst. When I was in 8th grade, I saw a kid get shoved into a locker and nearly locked in. I immediately told the teacher and the person who did it was suspended for at least a week. So, while physically mature, there was no mental maturity as mentioned.
This was a necessary read for those who plan to teach these young impressionable frogs. While reading the final chapter entitled "The Stress of Being a Frog" I realize the stress and anxiety adults go through when placed in a difficult situation is the same stress and anxiety the "frogs" go through when they are dealing with their own situations. In an instant we go ask 10 different questions to justify the answer to one really important question. As the author was finding all the energy to get out of the car and meet the faculty and principal that were waiting for him, processing the potential anger that awaits him, only to be met with a completely opposite experience. As educators we must help our students channel their own ego strength. On page 63, the author states "stress often causes irrational behavior. The best cure for stress is to replace it with ego strength". While frogs are still learning and figuring out where they belong in society, community, and their school having positive ego strength could help with the anxiety that they face daily.
I really liked the quote you pulled from page 63. I have commented on it before, but I think stress is a major factor during a middle school student's experiences both in the classroom and when socializing. Every "frog" is going to be going through some type of stress in middle school. For me, I was always stressed about my classes, but for others, maybe they didn't have stress about their classes but they had stress about how they looked, or what people thought of them. We have also talked about the fact that the adolescent students' brains haven't fully developed yet, so many times they just want to fit in. If they don't fit in, this may become a source of stress. So when a student is acting different than usual, or does something that is out of the ordinary, I think stress certainly may have something to do with it, especially because of its great presence throughout the middle schooler's day.
Stress is huge during this time in their life. I think it continues to get worse and worse with age but its something we learn to deal with after having experienced it numerous times. However, for frogs this may be the first time they might encounter stress because they have just moved up from elementary school, where they were the rulers of the school and have become the littles ones again since having progressed to the Middle School. They have to adjust to bell schedules, meeting the requirements of various different teachers for different subjects while also maintaining a social life and figuring out who they are. While we say college is the most stressful period of our lives, middle school can be too especially because of the major adjustments they have to go from being little boys and girls to teenagers and adjusting to what early adolescents bring to them. This day in age it's even harder to adapt because students are exposed to various different issues than what we had to back in our day. There's a lot more expectations put on students as well as staying up to date with local trends and technological advances too. These kids want to stay cool which may deplete their education.
I think that a lot of times we put young kids and adolescents in a different box from the rest of the world. The things they feel are adolescent emotions, the problems they have are adolescent problems. In some cases, I don't think that's necessarily wrong. But I think that a lot of adults forget that there's not always an "adolescent" tacked on as a qualifier - sometimes these things are just human problems, mo matter what our age is. I don't really think I have to explain how important that is to approaching adolescents to teach them. There isn't always some big mystery involved in trying to understand them or figure them out or relate to them. It's just about connecting to them on a human level, treating them with dignity and respect, and avoiding being patronizing (there is nothing adolescents hate more, in my mind, than adults being patronizing to them).
I think as mostly young teachers especially, we haven't yet realized that, for the most part, we've forgotten what it feels like to be a kid (or at least, that's the case for me). I know -I- still fall into the "but I'm still a kid!" mentality in a lot of ways, and the idea that I've forgotten what it was like to be in middle or even high school is chilling on a personal level. But sometimes I have to acknowledge that it's true. I find myself looking at middle and high school aged kids and thinking "aw look how little they are". But for them, they're the oldest and most mature they've ever been. I hated being looked down on or dismissed like that as a kid, and I can't fall into the trap of being "the adult" looking at "the kid." Of course, certain degrees of sensitivity and decorum need to be taken into account, but isn't that the case with everything in life? I don't talk to young students the way I talk to my peers, I don't talk to my boss the way I talk to my friends, etc. But remembering that, while these kids ARE still figuring out who they are and what the world is like and where they fit into the grand scheme of things, they are human beings, and they don't deserve to be treated like some kind of deficient alien child creature (or perhaps a child frog).
The part on the importance of ego strength was one of my favorites to read too. While it might seem minuscule, telling students that they are appreciated and that they are doing a good job is vital to their stress management and to minimizing the "irrational behavior" that the text mentions.
With some things going on right now, it took me a little more time to finish chapter 6 — and the book as a whole — than I would have liked, and a little longer to get these last few posts up. Still, I think there are still some things left to say about it, and I hope I'm coherent enough at the moment to get them across.
Overall, I really did enjoy this book. Chapter 6, especially, was, in my mind, the most vital chapter of all. As someone who did very well in school, even considering my middle school hiccups, I didn't personally relate to a lot of the things talked about in other chapters. I never tried to show off or be popular, I generally stayed quiet, I only had a few friends, my -number one- goal was to do well and impress my teachers so that they and my parents would be proud of me. I knew I had potential, and I didn't need any help with pulling it out. In that sense, I wasn't much of a tadpole to begin with.
But boy howdy did I stress. This last chapter really forced me to remember what I went through in middle and high school, and it made me look at things going on in my current life through a new (even if not particularly helpful) lens. The frogs in my life have always seemed to be the ones most affected by the demons and dangers of stress. Despair was something I felt frequently in high school, and it coupled with pure desperation when I was in middle school. More recently, I have seen the terror of despair generated by school and adolescent concerns almost wreck someone I love deeply, and I had no way to help. Because for young people, every little thing is the end of the world, and sometimes it's not just little things — even young people can face legitimate, terrible, soul-crushing problems, and we can NEVER EVER as teachers think that, just because a student is young, or from a good place, that their problems are ever only "small, little things." When do we, as teachers, finally have to stop worrying about the academics, the piling D's and F's, and just start worrying about the -kid-? And how do we walk the thin line of trying to help and making things worse? I wish someone had known the answer to that when I was in school, and I wish I knew the answer to that now.
This idea that he brings up, that sometimes we only see students as students, as "achievers", and not as young human beings, is incredibly on point, and an incredibly toxic idea. Maybe it's just because I have always liked learning, and am on the path to becoming a teacher now, but I put a lot of importance on education and academic success. I think a lot of parents do, too. And most young people spend most of their young lives in school — it's no exaggeration to say that they spend more time at school or doing school work than anything else in their life. And that kind of domination, of that overhanging "all importance" of education is enough to drive anyone crazy, especially students who don't care, or outright hate, school. And for those students, we have a tendency to automatically mark them for failure. They hate school, or do badly, or want to quit and do something else? They'll never amount to anything. I believe in education, but is it really true, that the people who don't fit into the educational mold are doomed for disaster? I don't know. I don't know if I want to be a part of an educational system that drives kids to killing themselves or others — even in the most rare or extreme of circumstances. I had to skip over the part talking about teenage/youth runaways. It's all too sad to think about.
BUT we do end on a little bit of a brighter note. Even though we have these kids for such a short time in their lives, we DO have them for some of the most IMPORTANT parts of their lives. What we do CAN make a difference if we go about it the right way. Our little tadpoles, whether they turn into tree frogs or toads or just common little pond frogs, they're all special and they all deserve all of the support and attention that we can give them. We might not be THE teacher to every single one of them, but if all teachers try their best in this way, then at least every student will HAVE one of "those teachers" who supports them and stands out to them.
I finished the second half of Learning How to Kiss a Frog and I have to say while it touched upon some not-so-positive topics, it really ended well. Learning about how early adolescents develop their reasoning and thinking skills was interesting in that now I know why my cousin seems to always have a million and five questions for me. She questions what I do almost ninety five percent of the time and it't not to be annoying, she's simply curious. The chapter also explained how "frogs" are learning to see things that aren't concrete. I love how the chapter mentioned that IQ isn't the only indicator for upper-level thinking because that directly coincides with the Angela Lee Duckworth lecture we just went to! The algebra section really resonated with me as a math major and how I watch students struggle with the subject on a daily basis.
The part that talked about students using different hemispheres of the brain was also interesting to me, as well as the discussion on different learning styles. I agree that us as teachers need to be able to adapt our teaching methods to students who are auditory-visual learners as well as visual-kinisthetic learners.
Chapter six was definitely harder to get through with the hard-hitting topics of stress management, suicide, eating disorders, runaways, and drug use. It's hard to imagine students as young as twelve or thirteen engaging in these actions and I think that the author is right: we need to do our best to create comforting communities and good teacher-student relationships before these issues happen rather than after. Each student, whether they are "at-risk" or "gifted and talented," should have at least one teacher or professional staff member who they feel comfortable talking to so that they feel as safe and welcome in our schools as possible.
Overall a great read!
I too, thought that this book was an excellent read! Middle school teachers need to be mindful of what their students may or may not have on his/her plate. It may be difficult for a student to concentrate or pay attention during class due to certain issues they may be experiencing either inside or outside of school. At the high school that I am currently observing at, I notice that some of the students are physically, but not mentally all there. This meaning that some students are sleeping, texting, in their own world, etc. I know that these students are older then these "frogs", but they too may also be experiencing issues that can occur in middle school. I believe that it is the teacher's job to motivate and encourage these students to learn. Let the students know that you care about them and want to watch/ help them succeed in school and in life. I strongly agree with Christina when she comments on how it is important for students to have that one teacher/adult that they know they can resort to. Personally, I am nervous to begin student teaching in a middle school. It is definitely going to be a challenge to get these middle school students interested in the material when school is the least of their worries at this age.
I agree, it was overall a great read. It provided us as future educators with insightful tips to take note of in the midst of our future busy days! Chapter 6 was harder to get through because it does make you think of how school violence can not only affect the child, but the lives of the hundreds of other children in the school. It just goes to show that sometimes there are more important things to focus on than our curriculum. The stress that they encounter can not only affect them, but everyone else around them as well.
I felt the same way about chapter 6 and the discussion of stress, suicide, eating disorders, etc. but I'm so glad that Garvin was able to talk about these topics instead of ignoring it which we do see many teachers and parents choose to do. I think that having a safe haven within your home or school is necessary but sometimes its tough and while all kids don't have the same somewhat enjoyable experience, some hold everything in because they don't have a positive or affirming outlet to tell them what's going on in their life and so its leads to harm emotionally which then can harm them physically. Suicide is even more apparent this day in age because of all the various peer pressures frogs face now alone with various acts of bullying and being made fun of for not fitting in. Plus when these frogs get home, they may also be ridiculed by their parents for not thinking about their future and staying productive which is not primarily their fault because they aren't established in higher thinking and are only focused on the here and now. I think we must stop being silent according to these topics and more so voice our concerns so that we may be able to save a frogs life and hope for their brightest potential and better future to appear to them. We must spread awareness through our school so students can see that their are people willing to listen to them and help through what they're going through and the answer is not starving themselves, or harming themselves/others, but instead to work to others to overcome these challenges.
I thought it was great book to understand the adolescent in that age. They are going through a lot of pressure at that age. The children at these age are going through an awkward period, behaving inconsistently, intensely curious, preoccupied with self, experiencing mood swings, needing to feel capability and independency. These are the results of critical physical, intellectual, social and emotional development, not of poor parenting or schooling. As an adult and their teacher, it is our responsibility to understand the major changes occurring in order to help these youngsters develop to their fullest and brightest potential.
The part i liked most was the part talked about students using different hemispheres of the brain was also interesting to me, as well as the discussion on different learning styles. I agree that us as teachers need to be able to adapt our teaching methods to students who are auditory-visual learners as well as visual-kinisthetic learners.
I just finished read the chapter that discusses all the body changes frogs are going through at this age. I think this was a really important chapter because all of us are (hopefully!) so far removed this time of insecurity that its easy to forget how dominant these concerns are to frogs. On page 31 it discussed how one of the problems for boys during this time is that girls are about 80% through their growth spurt while boys are much further behind. To make up for this boys will be more obnoxious to attract attention of girls. This is an incredibly poignant part of the chapter because I can relate to this personally and because I see it every day now. A lot of the boys I teach in my 7th grade class right now are shorter than the girls, who tower over them. To attract attention they will do outlandish things like yell out inappropriate things to get a laugh, goof off during group work etc. etc. My own personal memories of middle school don't revolve around school work, but all the times I did something stupid to get a laugh from whatever girl I had crush during the week. As teachers I think its important for us to be mindful of these things and adjust accordingly. One way to alleviate this, as the chapter states, its to help students build confidence in the classroom to overcome some of their physical insecurities. Another way to avoid these problems is to make sure students are active. On page 27, it states that if boys sit still for more than 12 minutes, they will build up pent up energy. That is a recipe for disaster and can avoided by making sure you don't lecture for more than 10 minutes, because many of these students will have checked out by then. This can be easily fixed by making sure the rest of the class-time is spent doing something active and while this is not going to happen everyday, I think teachers should strive to have at least something active in each lesson.
The fifth chapter of the book discusses the learning potential of frogs. I wish I wasn't so far behind on reading this book because this would have been an incredibly informative chapter to have read before starting my student teaching in a middle school. This chapter larger discusses how many frogs, 70% of them are concrete thinkers so many of them cannot answer higher level thinking questions yet. From pages 42-49 the chapter explains how many students cannot think in abstract terms, even kids that might be considered gifted or talented or kids that are in 8th grade. The chapter stresses that we have to teach basic skills over content. I had to learn these lessons the hard way because when I designed my lessons I had students tackle a lot of abstract concepts that they could not simply grasp yet, even those who were in the honors classes. I was so excited to teach my content area and I assumed that honors kids would be able to understand where I was trying to lead them. I was dead wrong. Many of the higher level thinking questions were completely lost on them and they focused on concrete details. For example, I gave them a primary and I asked a question which required them to infer something from the reading. When they answered the focused only on things that were in the actual text. It was then I realized that I need to spend a lot more time teaching them skills to get them from concrete thinkers to ones that can answer higher level thinking questions. This will take a while, but its incredibly important. One suggestion that I plan on using that was in this chapter was that we should administer cognitive tests in the first week of school, something simple, to see where kids are in terms of concrete thinking and abstract thinking. This will go a long way in helping me plan for how I make my lessons.
The last chapter in the book deals with the stress of being a frog and how important it is for teachers to enforce the egos of students. The author believes that many of the problems frogs face, such as drug use, running away from home, suicide, lack of interest in school result from a lack of ego enforcement. While this comes mainly from parents, that is not in our control as educators. We should strive to make the students feel confident in our classrooms, especially when they make a mistake. Too often students do not want to attempt something because they are afraid of the consequences of getting the answer wrong. Having confidence in their abilities allows them to see failure as a way to improve and not something that is a personal attack. I knew before reading this chapter that frogs were fragile, but I was surprised to learn that many of the frogs that suffer from the suicide problem are gifted and talented kids. They face a pressure to always achieve unattainable goals and are stigmatized for failure. I think as a teacher I have to be aware of that and not overburden these students.
Holy edTPA. In my effort to try to stay up to date with all my work while finishing up my initial certification, this book, sadly, fell by the wayside for a little. Today I finished up the last two chapters of the book. I really did enjoy reading it. It had real life examples of things that I could apply to my classroom practices. I just wish I had read chapter five before filming for my edTPA. Around this age, the frogs acquire a new potential to reason differently. As I learned this past week and as I read in the chapter, you have to develop these skills in the frog. When posing a question, I had been very quick to call on someone, which does nothing. I've gradually seen the importance of getting the frogs to expand on their answers (and hopefully I caught this on tape so I do well on my edTPA). When I've given my students adequate time to process my question and when I've taught something in multiple ways, accounting for the different ways our frogs learn, which is mentioned in chapter six, they had answers that really impressed me. They were able to form conclusions and see things not present, which most concrete learners have issues with. But, as the chapter states, this does not happen over night and I had to scaffold my students to this point. Unfortunately, not all of my students reached this point, but what I try to do in my lesson is try to teach to each student's modality preference. It is definitely difficult to design lessons that are visual-kinesthetic, but I try to have at least one a week. I try to break up the lesson into different activities. I'm happy to say that I have not spent 40 minutes lecturing. So after reading this chapter, I was happy to see I was doing a lot of the things the author spoke about.
I loved the ideas in chapter six about ego strength. In the beginning of the school year, a guidance counselor sent an email to my cooperating teacher about one of our students having a lack of confidence. The school I'm in is committed to a student centered approach and has teaming, like what is mentioned on page 67. With that particular student, since I have her first period, I've made an effort to develop a strong relationship with her so she starts her day off the right way. The school definitely tries to build a strong sense of community, which is mentioned throughout the chapter. If other teachers in the school make a concerted effort to build this community and the ego of their students, things like suicide and eating disorders which were mentioned throughout the chapter may not happen as often, if at all.
"The more students do with us or the more we draw examples from their lives, the better they understand difficult concepts. The more personal instruction is,the more it will be hears and the greater concentration we can expect". This statement in chapter 5 really caught my attention because it could not be more right. As educators we must look beyond the routine ways to deliver our content; we must do so in such a manner that the multiple learners in our class are able to grasp the concept the way THEY know how. "We often slip into teaching methods in which we feel comfortable and which satisfy OUR learning style. Often students are not given the luxury of choosing how they will learn in the classroom". Most educators think that the way they learn is the same way our students learn. As stated in the article, there will be students that will learn with OUR learning/teaching techniques, and then there will be others who will struggle to learn this way. Something that brought me back to a college class was when Garvin said, "If a frog goes to a middle-level school and has a teacher who has selected a curriculum that is abstract wen he has not yet developed thinking levels to understand it,...that is one strike against him". In HS, I never learned how to think abstractly nor was I in any proofs classes, therefore when I was first introduced to proofs in college I was completely lost. I took classes in HS that covered Alegebra/Trig/etc. My Professor was an intelligent man but assumed we all had previous "abstract learning" courses in HS, and clearly I didn't. I was beyond lost and ultimately needed to repeat the class. As educators we should never assume a child just "knows" things, because 9 times out of 10 they usually don't.
The reality of student stress whether in school or at home is something that should not be taken lightly. Considering the amount of school violence that has erupted over the last few years is frightening. I found it interesting when Garvin said, "In many of our middle-level schools, no accommodations are made in the daily schedule to provide youngsters with opportunities to get to know an adult well enough to find ego support". I feel that most teachers and advisers are afraid to over step their boundaries as a professional and as their students teacher. Teachers will draw a line creating a "school only" trust where students may discuss things concerning their work in school having to do with things other than self-esteem or other issues. I feel that most students are bombarded with so much that we as teachers will only take note of that when their grades or behaviors start to slip; often times a little to late. "When a student brings a gun to school and does something disastrous, then and only then do we stop the process long enough to grieve, but hardly ever to correct the problem in the system, would could have prevented disaster to begin with". In most cases, I think, that teachers feel they know their students well enough to know that they would never hurt themselves or others, that they will over look their bad behaviors and poor grades as laziness or a learning disability, but most of the time will not delve deeper to find out the core reasons of their problems. Most teachers do not want the responsibility of saying that their students problems are their problem because of the uncertainty of how that issue may affect them both in the long run.
I really like your point concerning how strange it is that we essentially don't take into account student's mental health when educating them. I think, for a large part, it's because schools are run rather like businesses. There's always that old myth that the bell schedules in schools exist to train students for factory work. Whether that's true or not, I've begun to find it strange in recent years that there's essentially very little difference between the demands of school and the demands of normal adult office life. In fact, office work often seems easier than what we put many 'frogs' through! And yet, we all know that students are not yet at a point in their lives where they should HAVE to be put through such rigors! Why can't students take mental health days, I wonder? Why don't we give them more time to socialize or explore scholastic options rather than the boxed-in core curriculum that has remained more or less unchanged for decades? I've had high school aged family or friends of family ask me what they can do with ELA (for example) outside of high school, to which I've replied, "Well, it's not really ever ELA after high school. You go into creative writing, or journalism, or specialize in a kind of literature, or editing," and yet, these are never options in school. What I like about this book is that it tries to bring an awareness that when you're teaching a student, you're teacher a whole person who REALLY isn't even a full person yet. They're still building themselves up, and a lot of the stress school puts them under only serves to tear at those fragile foundations of identity. Teachers are still human, and students are still human, and I think this book helps to remind the reader that humanity and sensitivity should still have a place in the classroom.
I really enjoyed the final chapter because it covered the most important part of these frogs: their self-esteem. It is beyond true that in order to counteract the stress that these frogs feel, we must strengthen their ego. This can be done through "I love you's," actions, and providing them with opportunities to explore and create and think about who they are and what they can be. . Actions do speak louder than words, so we need to DO more than SPEAK. We need to stop saying bullying is bad, eating disorders are bad, and cutting is bad, we need to show that it is bad. These frogs need to feel appreciated and spending time with my frogs for the past two months have really opened my eyes to seeing how vulnerable they are and how any little thing that is said or done to them can ruin an entire day. It makes me so upset when I witness a frog who isn't having a good day because they failed a quiz and think it's the end of the world, or a frog who jokes around about their friend being dumb and seeing that student get upset after. Our frogs are at the most vulnerable stages in their lives and we must never forget that. I admit that I tend to forget that they are still children and need to be coddled a bit more due to their transition into a new environment. We need to make them feel appreciated. I agree when it states that they should have mentors outside of their guidance counselors; in reality, how can one guidance counselor meet the needs of 100+ students they have? It is not possible and when you think about all of their needs at this age, it is unfair to them that no one can provide undivided attention when they possibly cannot get it at home. This chapter really put a lot into perspective for me. We really need to care for our little "frogs."
A problem I've encountered while teaching older adolescents and that I recall from my own older adolescent years is just this problem of increasing stress, the unfortunate dichotomy between being older and able to understand the bleaker and more serious facets of the world, without being given the authority or respect to do anything about those problems. I don't think adults give older teenagers enough credit. But this age, many 'frogs' have 'seen behind the curtain,' so to speak. They are coming to understand how the game of life is played—and see how the people around them either cheat or play fair—but adults often treat them as naive or ignorant. Adolescents aren't given power over their own lives, even as they feel they can make competent decisions. Teachers, too, often tell students, "you're big kids now, so the kid gloves are off; the real world is a serious place," without ever giving them the choices and or freedoms the "real world" would otherwise afford a supposedly functional adult. As such, I found that the author's message on the importance of love in this chapter especially poignant. Yes, these 'frogs' are caught in a liminal state where they are at once given adult responsibilities while still being treated as children, so it's endlessly important that the adults in their lives treat them with respect and love, to ease them into those burdens. The burdens are unavoidable—they come with growing up—but at the same time, youth is when a human being is at their freest before they're trapped in the eat-sleep-work cycle of adulthood, and I believe that adults should try to give their 'frog' charges as much support and love as they can to make this transition one of success, rather than resentment. Frogs are at an impressionable, emotional, and sensitive times in their lives. They internalize problematic and stressful ideas about the world around them, and often they feel despair about their situations or their ability to succeed in life, not just in school. It is essential that they have teachers who know and understand them well enough to identify behavior and mood changes and take action, teachers who show them love and support. They need parents who accept and understand the changes they’re going through, who act and react with love and support instead of confusion or aggravation. Only then can these little frogs develop into the princess and princesses they’re surely meant to be.
After finishing the book I feel like I have a much clearer insight and perspective of what to expect with these "Frogs" when I begin student teaching in the Middle School on Monday. What I took from the book can be broken into five different sections: the analogy of the frog, what it means being a frog, what the world is like to frogs, what parents need to know about frogs, what teachers can do for frogs and lastly, what can parents do for their frogs. However, I feel the main point of this book is just plain and simple: understand these frogs are looking for answers and they are young kids.
I find the hardest part of being a teacher is keeping the students engaged. This even goes for High School students, including the AP kids (whom I have worked with). Students constantly need to be active and engaged for them receptively learn and the information must be given in multiple ways to address each students learning needs. As hard as this may seem, its crucial as the teacher in the classroom to do this so that each student can be reached and that ultimately the lesson is clear and understood by everyone. Keeping them active can include various different ideas from working in groups, or having a “Do Now” that involves them to use technology, or even playing a game of jeopardy/taboo to review for an upcoming test are all just some examples in which we can engaged and interested instead of dreading learning.
Olivia said it best in her post from October 11th, but I do believe that as parents, and teachers, we need to understand that the way their young frogs act are not always a result of their parenting style or our teaching style, but instead is a phase that all children must go through to help them grow and become our future doctors and lawyers in society. We must be able to help these youngsters develop to their fullest potential. While at this time the most influential beings they are surrounded by are their peers, they are still listening to you and look up to you as a role model so the way you act and appear does have an impact on them.
Dr. Smith is the Principal of Mineola High School in Garden City Park, NY. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Ruth Ammon School of Education at Adelphi University.