Here we are at the last of the top five concerns of the typical middle schooler. My opening analogy comes from colonial American history *insert fife and drum fanfare.*
Taxation without representation was one of the ways the colonists were most annoyed with the mother country; that is, they had to pay for a government that they were not a part of. They had to give part of their wages for a system that did not have the slightest concern for their opinion. Enough of that and there's a rebellion. Same with our dear middle schoolers.
Hannah believes that there needs a time where student concerns are addressed if teachers expect absolute obedience. A certain amount of respect is required from students for them to do what you ask, and that respect must be earned.
“I feel like they don’t want to listen to me. All they care about is being bossy. I think they're teachers because they like bossing people around. I feel like they don't care."
I assume that most people who have chosen middle school education as a profession do indeed care about his or her students, but they do need to be careful to not imply they don’t care in more subtle ways.
For example, the way the school day is structured in and of itself usually allows no time or place for students to express their concerns. They don't factor in student input when they're planning their time, but there could be a simple modification by holding short community meetings, a time to share concerns about the learning environment. More and more schools have started using a portion of their homeroom time as an open forum. Of course, sometimes students may turn an inch of freedom into a foot and abuse this free speech time to make destructive comments. But there are too many students with valuable input of how to improve the learning community to avoid meetings in fear of those select few abusing their privileges.
While a counselor is profitable for a student’s personal issues, a teacher can help make the classroom a better community by listening to its members’ suggestions of improvement.
“How much choice and voice do you have, Hannah?”
"I have the choice of what color ink I can use: blue or black."
So, I would say the typical middle school student feels powerless. Not a good thing at this age level when they need to be discovering their voice.
By practicing a little more democracy in the classroom, students will most likely 1) respect you more for respecting their opinion, and 2) find new leadership skills they never thought they had when given an opportunity to suggest improvements. And again, I am back to the theme that pervaded my Teaching in the Middle class and consequently, all of these blog entries: creating a community of learners. Everyone is valuable. Everyone is respected. Everyone is an integral piece of the puzzle! Thanks for reading, and best regards to both current and aspiring middle school educators.