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There is more support for change in education now than at any other time in my memory . . . . A number of trends . . . will indeed bring about the kind of fundamental change that has long been needed. If we do not assume the initiative, however, the gains we have made and the supportive climate are likely to fade, and several more decades would pass before another time as ripe for reform would come along (John H. Lounsbury).
This statement was made, during an interview, by John H. Lounsbury (Manning, 1997), one of the founding fathers of the middle school movement. As Lounsbury indicated, the events of the past 10 to 15 years have placed major emphasis on understanding young adolescents and implementing effective middle school practices. Several state departments of education, the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, the National Middle School Association (NMSA), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) have led the way. The result has been the increasing acceptance of middle schools, the increasing knowledge about young adolescents and their developmental period, and the increasing recognition that middle school teaching methods need to be developmentally responsive. This does not mean that the battle for acceptance of the middle school concept is over; rather, it means that middle school educators need to take advantage of the momentum and to continue to implement genuine reforms in middle school education.
Our challenge in writing this book was to find a way to take all of the information about young adolescents and middle schools andtranslate it into a 10chapter book. We also wanted to balance the practical and the theoretical, for it is our belief that a mixture of the two is necessary. Thus, in this book, we wanted to provide both preservice and in-service teachers with basic information about young adolescents, ages 10 to 15. We also wanted to provide a solid core of essential knowledge about middle schools, including information about young adolescent development, middle school organization, core and exploratory curricula, middle school instructional strategies, and essential middle school concepts. Our aim was to emphasize young adolescents' diversity (developmental, cultural, gender, and sexual orientation) and the importance of these differences reflected in educational experiences and guidance efforts. In determining "what effective middle schools and teachers do," we used respected documents such as This We Believe (the official position paper of the National Middle School Association, 2003), This We Believe . . . And Now We Must Act (National Middle School Association, 2001), Great Transitions: Preparing Adolescents for a New Century (Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 1996), and Turning Points: Preparing American Youth for the 21st Century (Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 1989). Last, we wanted a strong research base, and a focus on teaching methods, strategies, materials, resources, and technology.
This book is the result of our work. It is our hope that through our scenarios, case studies, and anecdotes we have captured the practical essence of young adolescents and middle schools. We also hope that our narrative, explanations of research, references, and recommended readings present both the philosophical and the pedagogical foundations of middle school education. RATIONALE FOR TEACHING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL
As we wrote Teaching in the Middle School, our overarching goal (albeit lofty, we admit) was to improve the lives and educational experiences of young adolescents. Reflecting this, our specific objectives were to (a) tell readers about middle schools today—what they are and what they can become; (b) describe young adolescents and their developmental period; (c) identify essential middle school concepts that have potential for this age group; and (d) identify educational experiences that are developmentally responsive for young adolescents.
We are realistic enough to know that even if we are able to achieve our objectives, this book alone will not be sufficient to change middle schools. We believe that classroom teachers will be the key reformers of middle school education and that the ultimate success of middle school reforms will depend on these teachers—people whom we highly respect and who work daily to improve the lives and educational experiences of young adolescents. Thus, we wrote this book with middle school classroom teachers in mind. ORGANIZATION OF THIS BOOK
This book is divided into four parts.
Chapter 1 looks at middle schools today and provides an overview of middle school concepts and teaching; whereas chapter 2 examines young adolescents, their development, and related issues. Chapters 3 and 4, respectively, examine the core curriculum and the integrated and exploratory curriculum. Planning appropriate and interdisciplinary instruction is the topic of chapter 5. In chapter 6, we explore implementing instruction and the selection and use of methods and materials. Chapter 7 focuses on assessment, a topic of increasing importance to all schools. Chapter 8 looks at positive middle school environments and effective classroom management procedures. Chapter 9 explores ways both teachers and professionally trained guidance counselors can provide all young adolescents with developmentally responsive guidance experiences. The final chapter, chapter 10, examines the relationships between schools and communities and suggests ways to involve parents in middle schools. Last, the Epilogue presents some challenges and possibilities for middle schools and suggests what they might become when teachers are committed to young adolescents and effective middle school practices. SPECIAL FEATURES AND PEDAGOGICAL AIDS
As you read this book, we want you to be able to visualize what happens in real middle schools. Although we wanted to be practical, we also wanted to include pertinent research, and we wanted a book that will be up-to-date. To do all of that, we have included several special features that we think will help you understand the realities of teaching in a middle school.
Diversity Perspectives. In this feature, we use examples to reflect our nation's cultural diversity and our increasing recognition of gender differences. Thus, each Diversity Perspective looks at a particular topic that is actually discussed in the chapter and considers how middle school educators can be cultural- and gender-responsive.
Theory into Practice (TIP). Our students always want to know about the "real world." Although researchers often offer perceptive findings, we find that they do not always explain how to implement them. TIP takes concepts found in each chapter and provides practical classroom or school examples, indicates how to use research findings in a school setting, or offers a checklist for evaluating the existence of a concept in a middle school. Each TIP has at least one reference that we used to develop it.
Anecdotal Accounts. In our many years of teaching and working with middle schools, we have had a variety of experiences and accumulated a number of stories. Although we have changed the names of the participants, we have tried to integrate these stories throughout the text. We wanted you to feel that you were looking over our shoulders and listening to actual middle school teachers, middle school students, college students, and parents.
Chapter Objectives. To provide an overview and to help focus your reading, we have provided objectives at the beginning of each chapter. You can also use this advance organizer, or outline, as a study or review guide.
Scenarios. Each chapter starts with a scenario that prepares you for the topics that will be discussed. In the scenario, we try to describe "real-life" conversations and events that middle school educators might encounter and to pose problems that often arise. Try reacting to the scenario before you read the chapter and then revisit it when you finish the chapter.
Case Studies. In each chapter, a case study examines the topics being discussed and shows how middle school teachers responded. Sometimes these case studies are a continuation of the situation found in the opening scenario. Other times, they present a new problem. As you read them, consider how you might react to the situation and whether you agree with the responses found in the case study.
Keeping Current with Technology. We are constantly adding to our knowledge of middle schools, and it is impossible to put everything into one book. With our technology feature, you can use the resources of the Internet to access additional information related specifically to the topics discussed in each chapter.
Developing Your Portfolio. Building a professional portfolio is one way that you, as an emerging middle school educator, can document and reflect on your growth and professional development as well as demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and dispositions as an educator of young adolescents. At the end of each chapter, we will include some of the performance standards from the National Middle School Association and provide suggestions for evidence related to the topics discussed in each chapter that you might place in your portfolio to demonstrate your competence in meeting that standard.
Glossary. Specialized terms related to young adolescent development, middle school concepts, and the education profession in general can be somewhat confusing. Therefore, a glossary is included at the end of this book. NEW TO THIS EDITION
Readers often want to know what is different in a new edition—what additions, deletions, and general changes have been made. Here we point out a number of changes and additions, all designed to help readers as they learn about middle school teaching.
I: UNDERSTANDING MIDDLE SCHOOLS AND YOUNG ADOLESCENTS.
1. Middle Schools Today-Concepts and Teaching.
2. Young Adolescents-Development and Issues.
II: DEVELOPING THE CURRICULUM AND ORGANIZING THE SCHOOL.
3. Middle School Curriculum-Core and Related Domains.
4. Middle School Curriculum-Integrated and Exploratory.
III. PLANNING, IMPLEMENTING, ASSESSING, AND MANAGING INSTRUCTION.
5. Planning Instruction-Appropriate and Interdisciplinary.
6. Implementing Instruction-Organization, Methods, and Materials.
7. Assessment of Learning-Methods and Issues.
8. Managing Young Adolescents and Environments-Strategies and Techniques.
IV: GUIDING STUDENTS AND WORKING WITH EXTERNAL COMMUNITIES.
9. Guiding Young Adolescents-Teachers and Counselors.
10. Parents, Families, and Community Members-Partners and Resources.
11. Epilogue: Middle Schools of the Future.