Things Learned—or Affirmed—as a Middle School Mom

Confessions of a former middle school principal.

By: Kate M. Cassada


As a life-long middle school advocate, I have always known and valued my students as their teacher and school leader, but recently I became a middle school mom. As a parent, many of my beliefs about doing what is right for middle school children have been affirmed, and I have gained wisdom by seeing the situation from a parent's perspectives. Here are some of the lessons learned or affirmed by a middle school mom.

  • Bless teachers who let a middle school child snack in third block.
  • Middle schoolers would never survive as carrier pigeons. Parents need real communication.
  • Teaming matters. Significantly. Its absence is detrimental to students and to teachers.
  • Check the homework balance—eight classes are a lot.
  • Wise teachers of advanced classes realize that while the content is high school mature, the learners are not.
  • He can analyze an assignment at length, be energized by it, complete it, walk into your classroom, and still forget to submit it to you. Gah! Teacher forgiveness is a welcome gift.
  • Suddenly, study hall sounds like a great idea.
  • School-wide behavioral and academic expectations feed a whole-school culture.
  • Young adolescents seriously need outdoor activity, sun, and fresh air.
  • Middle schoolers really do need to connect with at least one teacher. It's not just rhetoric. And parents are grateful when they recognize that a teacher knows and likes their child.
  • Our children are learning how not to be the bully or the bullied. Socially, it's a tightrope walk for kids every day. Talk to them about the higher road and keep a keen eye on things.
  • Middle schoolers may appear silly and unruffled at school, but heartbreaking stress lies right under the surface.
  • It is remarkably difficult to transition from the "physical parent" (keep them safe, fed, and clean) to the "emotional parent."
  • Talk less—listen more.
  • Young adolescents can achieve their fun, crazy dreams.
  • Channel the funny and punny sense of humor, but please don't squash it. The latest: "I'd tell you a chemistry joke, but I wouldn't get a reaction."

Kate M. Cassada is assistant professor of education and assistant chair of graduate education for educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Richmond in Virginia.
kcassada@richmond.edu

Published in AMLE Magazine, October 2016.

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