4 Sentences Every Middle School Teacher Should Say to the Their Students
June 27, 2023
Teaching middle school isn't for the faint of heart. Middle school teachers are tasked with providing top-notch instruction to a class full of students facing some of the biggest social, emotional, and physical changes of their lives. Adolescents have unique needs as students. That's why teachers are so critical in their development.
If you've every found yourself in front of one or thirty teens, and you've wondered what to say to make them feel important, heard, and understood, then check out these research-based sentences that every middle schooler needs to hear.
Adolescents often face self-doubt and uncertainty about their abilities. Self-esteem tends to fluctuate during adolescence. Early adolescence (ages 10-14) often shows a decline in self-esteem as individuals navigate physical and psychological changes, social comparisons, and increased self-consciousness. Hearing this sentence reassures them that they have the potential to succeed, boosting their confidence and motivating them to strive for excellence.
Ways to build self-esteem in the classroom:
>>> Provide specific praise for students that focuses on their actions, behaviors, and qualities rather than generic compliments.
>>> Create a supportive and inclusive classroom environment that celebrates kindness, respect, and empathy. Intentionally plan lessons that target kindness. (Sign up here for 5 free kindness lessons.) >>> Engage parents, guardians, and the community in supporting students' self-esteem. Communicate their accomplishments, involve them in celebrations, and seek their input. (Check out this post about positive parent phone calls.)
Middle school students often experience heightened levels of stress and pressure. The rapid physical and hormonal changes that occur during adolescence can affect brain development and emotional regulation. Adolescents may be more susceptible to mood swings, emotional intensity, and difficulties in managing stress. It becomes crucial for them to learn effective coping mechanisms and self-care practices. This sentence acknowledges the importance of their mental and emotional health, encouraging them to prioritize self-care, seek support when needed, and develop healthy coping strategies.
Here are some easy ways to incorporate self-care for students:
>>> Create a Calm Corner: Designate a quiet area in the classroom where students can go to take a break, relax, or practice mindfulness. Fill it with calming posters, soft cushions, stress balls, coloring materials, or calming sensory items to provide a peaceful space for self-reflection and relaxation. (Grab free calming posters here.) >>> Promote Regular Movement Breaks: Encourage short movement breaks throughout the day to combat sedentary behavior and increase blood flow. These breaks can involve stretching, yoga poses, dance parties, or even a quick walk around the classroom. Physical activity helps release tension and boosts mood.(Check out more ways to move in the classroom here.) >>> Incorporate Mindfulness Activities: Integrate mindfulness practices into your lessons or daily routines. Start or end the day with a brief mindfulness exercise, such as a guided visualization or a mindful quote. These moments of mindfulness help students focus, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being. (Grab FREE mindfulness resources here.)
Adolescents are forming their identity and seeking validation. Adolescence is a period marked by significant cognitive development, including the ability to think abstractly, consider multiple perspectives, and form independent judgments. As adolescents gain these cognitive abilities, they have an increased desire to express their thoughts and opinions. This sentence validates their perspectives, fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment. It encourages them to express their ideas, engage in critical thinking, and contribute to meaningful discussions, promoting intellectual growth and self-expression.
Provide opportunities for students to share their thoughts and opinions...
>>> Open Discussions: Create a classroom culture that encourages open discussions and respectful exchanges of ideas. Establish a safe and inclusive environment where students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts without fear of judgment or criticism.
>>> Collaborative Group Projects: Assign group projects that require students to work together and share their thoughts and ideas. This promotes teamwork and allows students to contribute their unique perspectives to achieve a common goal. (This works especially well with literature circles.) >>> Exit Tickets: Use exit tickets as a quick way for students to share their thoughts or opinions at the end of a lesson. Pose questions or prompts related to the day's content and ask students to write brief responses. This provides insight into their understanding and allows them to express their opinions. (Grab 20 exit slips here.)
Middle school students may fear failure and feel overwhelmed by the consequences of making mistakes. This sentence helps reframe their mindset, assuring them that errors are part of the learning process. It promotes resilience, perseverance, and a willingness to take risks, ultimately facilitating personal and academic growth.
Help students develop a positive mindset with these activities:
>>> Emphasize the Power of "Yet": Teach students to use the word "yet" to reframe statements of limitation. For example, "I don't understand this concept" becomes "I don't understand this concept yet." This simple shift encourages a belief in the potential for growth and improvement.
>>> Promote Growth Mindset: Teach students about the concept of growth mindset, emphasizing that intelligence and abilities can be developed through effort and learning. Encourage them to view challenges as opportunities for growth and emphasize the importance of perseverance. (Here's a doodle growth mindset resource.)
>>> Set Realistic Goals: Guide students in setting realistic and achievable goals. Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable steps. This helps them develop a sense of progress and accomplishment, leading to a positive mindset.
By saying these four sentences to students, teachers can effectively support the needs of adolescent students and contribute to their success both academically and personally. Building positive relationships, promoting a growth mindset, fostering autonomy and responsibility, and nurturing a supportive classroom climate are crucial components in empowering adolescents to thrive in their educational journey. By embodying these principles, educators become catalysts for their students' growth and provide them with the tools they need to reach their full potential.
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