Friday, October 23, 2009

Let us Play!!

It was a VERY enjoyable week. I had the good fortune this week to interact with our students in all different venues, and it made me think critically about teaching and learning. Dr. Creeden is fond of saying "curriculum is all that we do with intention," and that rings so true when you consider all the different ways our students are able to develop their unique talents outside of the "traditional" classroom. In my opinion, outside of the classroom activities are vital to good middle schools. Quite frankly, middle school kids NEED to play because it supports their physical, emotional, and academic development. I'm happy to report that a large number of our middle school students are involved in extracurricular activities, and we are blessed to have teachers who give additional hours to provide support. Here are some examples:
-132 students played a sport this fall
-120 students play in the Band, work on the stage crew, sing in an a capella group, or perform in a play
-94 students are members of the Jr. National Honor Society and are working on a CANstation project
-50 students attend FCA meetings on a bi-weekly basis
-25 advisee groups are playing in the Brick/Fish Bowls
-30 students are working on the Middle School News Sheet
-Nearly every middle school student and faculty member will complete community service with JH Gunn Elementary this year

My point in providing all of these numbers is that we should never lose sight of the fact that our middle school children are always learning, and the non-traditional environments are just as important as the traditional ones. To be quite honest with you, I remember very little of the information I learned in class when I was in middle school. The things I do remember, the truly formative experiences, are the things that happened outside of the classroom. I remember trying out for 6th grade Chorus and the chorus teacher telling me that "she heard I was a pretty good baseball player, but there probably wasn't room for my voice in the chorus." If you've ever heard me sing, Mrs. Faust wasn't lying. I remember playing organized football for the first time in 7th grade and struggling with the hardest thing about football...putting on the uniform properly. I remember the D.A.R.E. program, and getting to keep the D.A.R.E. bear for the entire day because my name was picked out of a hat. I remember my first dance in 6th grade, and standing in the corner until I got one of my friends to ask a girl to slow dance with me. Happily she said yes...but she was a good 6 inches taller than me, so the dance was a little awkward. I remember trying to act cool by kicking Ryan Brooks' chair out from under him...only to see him hit his head on the floor and have to go to the nurse's office. I remember being so excited to get into one of the 8th grade basketball games as a 7th grader and immediately shooting at the other team's basket. I guess that I was wide open for a reason:)

I could go on and on providing details about my experiences outside of the traditional classroom, and I think that's the point. Don't get me wrong, traditional learning is very important, but its important that we always encourage our middle school students to try new things and get involved with school activities. In 20 years, I'd be willing to bet that our current middle school students will be able to recall what they wear on Halloween dress up this Friday...and not what they learned in class that day.

Thanks for reading. As always, I look forward to your comments.

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