I just wish I could give them half as much as they give me. My priorities in life are so different since these kids became part of my life.
How Do You Deal With Middle School Students' Apathy?
from The Middle School Chatboard
How do you, as teachers, deal with the apathy from middle school students? In particular, the 8th grade class at my school is extremely apathetic this year. They don't care about their grades, incentives do not work, taking away field trips does not phase them, etc. Our team hates taking away things from the minority that do care, but we are stretching to find something to jump start the majority of these kids.
Response posted by Middle School Teacher:
8th graders live with one foot out the door and the other on a roller skate all year long. Around January, all they can think of is how much they don't feel a part of their school anymore. They generally tower over the others and the difference between a 6th grader and an 8th grader is almost exponential.
To 'cure' their apathy you would need to cure their feelings of discomfort about their place in Middle School. Since we can't really do that, we try to rearrange the curriculum to give their discomfort some room. In April/May we have sometimes suspended most non-essential homework in Science, Specials, Soc., L.A. (never math) and each 8th grader chooses a project of their own. Ours are pretty wide-ranging. One 8th grader of mine choose to learn to play the banjo and 6 weeks later he came back playing the banjo. Another one learned to cook and cooked a lasagna lunch for the class. Another studied the history of rock music and presented it complete with audio clips. A few make their own films every year. One wrote a play and 'produced' it for the whole class to watch.
Some years we have suspended non-essential classes (never math) and each teacher teaches a topical oriented class of their interest. I like to teach History of Film. So instead of going to L.A., Soc., Science, they go to their same teachers but find each one of teaching something we LOVE to teach that lies to the side of routine curriculum.
Response posted by JAB:
How about an Academic Celebration for the kids to look forward to? A day (Preferably a Friday) where the kids go to their classes---with their friends who may be in different periods---and there are activities to do in each classroom. Activities in the a.m. could vary from puzzles, whole group, small group games to a simple lesson in home ec. or art with making something creative.
I can't remember from your post if your school does teaming or not. Our schedule ran in the morning with 4 different activities in place of their classes. Lunch (ALL of our kids ate the same lunch period), and then a movie in the afternoon---preferably one that has just been released & would cover the time in the afternoon. The team of teachers provided chips & pop as a snack for during the movie.
A horrible snow storm cancelled school for us 2 years ago, the day before X-mas break and the kids were DEVASTATED! I saw some at the mall & all they could say was they were sad & afraid because they thought we wouldn't have our celebration---they really worked hard too!
For the few kids who did not do their work, they did not participate. They had a desk to work at with worksheets & assignments they were missing.
Eighth grade students often have 'nothing' to look forward to at school. Maybe this could be an incentive for you. All you need is cooperation from staff, admin. & a master schedule for the day. IT CAN BE DONE!