(Pendergast, D 2017, ‘Middle Year Education’ in DL Pendergast, K Main & NM Bahr (3rd Edition), Teaching Middle Year: Rethinking Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, pp. 3-20)
Digitally Annotated by Andrei Apostol
This theme showed the increasing importance of having a middle school philosophy (direction and purpose for practice, as well as evaluation) and specific pedagogy for the student in the middle years (a middle school philosophy will include directed and relevant curriculum). A point that was highlighted here was that middle school is the pedagogy and curriculum not just about the structure of a school.
The middle school reform (transition period for young people (year 6-9) moving from primary school to high school) is necessary due to unfamiliar structure, forming new relationships, different focus of learning (subject not student focused) and unique learning needs. Motivation and engagement are important as is tailoring the curriculum your students. Disengagement is a common theme. (This disengagement occurs substantially, and due to reasons specific to adolescence)
3 – CAPTURE THE ESSENCE OF THE CHAPTER
Middle school education is the thoughtful adoption of intentional approaches and pedagogy to learning and teaching that consider the way young people learn and engage in a formal and informal context (Pendergast, D 2017, pp.20). There is a need for these approaches and pedagogy that has emerged from the acknowledgement that our young people go through the considerable change during this period (matched to that undertaken in the first 2 years of life) and the effect that these changes have on learning Pendergast et.al, 2017, pp.3).
Classrooms at a middle school level to cater for all students learning needs are widely differentiated and students transition from the student-centred model of learning to a subject-focused model of learning (Pendergast, D 2017, pp.4)
During these middle school years, a decline in student academic performance is seen, some due to disengagement, disruptive behaviour, boredom and disconnection from school (Pendergast, D 2017, pp.4)
2 – PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR YOUR TEACHING
I as a teacher need to employ specific and intentional approaches to my middle school learners to enable them to best chance of success and acknowledge the need for differentiated instruction in this crucial period of their lives. I will know the student (AITSL standard 1!) and how to best engage them for success academically (Standards 2 and 3) and in terms of wellbeing.
I as a teacher need to consider my own philosophy and make it relevant to the students and context that I am teaching in (connective learning) (Pendergast, D 2017, pp.5, 18-19). Looking at the key issues for the student during this time, why these approaches are important for student success and thinking about what the ideal middle school classroom look like.
1A – RICH, OPEN-ENDED QUESTION OR PROVOCATION
It is acknowledged that teachers of students in the middle school years, see a decline in academic performance (Australian Council for Educational Research -ACER, 2012 as cited in Pendergast, D 2017, pp.4). What is this decline a result of and what can we as teachers do.
1B- REFLECTIVE RESPONSE ON TO THE QUESTION OR PROVOCATION
It is acknowledged that teacher of students in the middle school years, see a decline in academic performance and us as teachers need to analyse each situation careful to work out the root of the cause and how we can in prevent further decline of performance and allow this student to be successful. Generally, factors that lead to a decline in academic performance are irrelevant and meaningless curriculum, either to hard or too easy for the school, lack of clear communication as to what is required and teachers using the one size fits all approach. Teachers need to differentiate students and allow meaningful curriculum connection for the student and a chance of success.
Damien Walker is currently studying a Bachelor of Education, Food and Textiles Technologies at University of South Australia. This is him engaging with readings and questions throughout his teaching journey to gain professional insight and knowledge.