Being a 6th grader is super hard. 
Your student(s) and I need your help. 
 
New school.  New school structure. Much faster pace, Changing classes, Time constraints.
Less time for personalized attention during class.  Classes are approximately 58 minutes.
New classroom structure.  More teachers.  More expectations. 

1.  Organizational skills are an essential new skill to learn and practice for most.  
  *The majority of 6th graders enter Middle School without the organizational skills needed.
        *It will be clearly apparent, early on, if your student needs to learn and practice organizing,                           planning, studying, and taking personal responsibility for their own learning.
        *Elementary School does not require the level of organization that Middle School will and                             many students experience a huge transitional learning curve. 
        *Grades may drop dramatically and your student's stress level may rise dramatically.
                   **This is normal and it will correct itself within about a month or two.
        *If additional help is needed, that is also normal and your teachers are here to help!
        *Students will encounter a variety of strategies for organizing based on each teacher/subject                          needs.  Students will need close assistance in developing a system for managing and                          planning successfully.  They may also require accountability plans at home.
        *SMS provides each student with a Raider Organizer  where students can capture                                             assignments and deadlines for classes in one place.  Using this practice can simplify                           parent and student communication. 
        *Middle School students are typically very poor communicators, as they have not experienced                      a great need for self advocacy or providing explanations about issues.  They need to                            learn and practice skills in this area over time to get better.
        *For Math Class, I expect students to take personal responsibility for writing their HW in                               the Raider Organizer as the 1st step upon entering class.  This practice will help them                         make a personal habit of checking the information board in class.
                 a. This is a great communication tool between Home and School when                                                       additional student accountability is needed.
                 b. I can initial assignments and you, along with your student can have quality                                            conversations that lead them to personal accountability as needed.
                 c.  Even though we live in a technology world, we can not always rely on it to work                                    properly and our students will use this as an excuse to skirt responsibility.
        *Student Textbooks are sent home and students are instructed to keep them in a place to be                         used when Chromebooks, internet etc. are not available.  Work with your student to                           find a safe place for the text so it is readily available and not lost prior to turning in.
        
2. Organization of Student Math Notebook (spiral)
        *This is where we will put all of our math work.
        *Warm Ups and Classwork and HW pages should have the proper headings: 
                    WU, CW or HW  with Date and Day for easy notebook checks. 
        *Problem #s are visible for each problem, problems are relatively organized and legible.
                    Color corrections are identifiable.
        *Each chapter has a different color card stock HW stamp sheet (in notebook front pocket)
        *HW  answers are checked, corrected or copied (for make up check) each day.  
        *Vocabulary pages and Learning Log pages should be at the beginning of the New Chapter
                    in the Spiral.
        *All Quizzes, Tests and Handouts should be taped or glued neatly into the spiral on the next                       clean page available in the spiral.
        *Each chapter will be "closed out" by putting the colored HW stamper around all work from                       that chapter and stapled or taped closed.
    
3.  Student and parent notebook checks
        *Suggestion:  1/2 hr on the weekend will allow your student to get "how to" advise from you                        on organization and provide them an opportunity to enjoy learning these skills from                          you.
        *Our Warm Up each day sets the stage for teaching time and contains review material.
        *Students are asked to write down the warm up problems even if they do not know how 
                    to do them.  
        *We go over the processes and answers when Warm Up time ends.  We check, correct and/or                     copy  (for make up work) in color so you can visualize student interaction with class                           content.
        *You can see on their HW Stamp Card if they are keeping up with HW.  HW is checked,                               corrected and/or copied (for make up work)  in color so you can visualize student                               interaction with content and used as a learning opportunity for questions and                                     explanations every day.  
        *Please use this time as a positive problem solving and goal  setting time with each other.                             (even baby steps are successes)  
        *If you have concerns, please contact me.

4.   ParentVue/StudentVue - Grades can be tracked here.  
          *Setting up an expected standard with your student, checking once per week and 
                    using  the results as an accountability measure that unlocks privileges has worked well 
                    for many families.  
           *Be consistent or accountability systems don't work.  
           *Training and change can be uncomfortable for the trainer and the trainee at times.
           *Middle School students are in great need of learning:
                    1)   patience throughout a challenging process
                    2)   working through challenges without emotional overload
                    3)   growth VS fixed mindset during challenges
                    4)   coping skills when changes in their performance and/or areas of strength change
                    5)   articulating what they are thinking/feeling, what their needs/concerns are, what                                 help they need.
                    6)  how to take personal responsibility for solving challenges they encounter.

5.    Hormones are beginning to rage.  
            *Middle School can be some of the toughest years for students to maneuver.  
            *Understanding adolescent years in terms of brain development, social, emotional and
                        physical developmental patterns can help with navigating this tough stage in life.
             *As hard as you may try to tell them otherwise, some teens feel awkward, ugly, and  
                        insecure at times.  This may manifest as:  attitude, grumpy, tired, abnormally quiet,  
                        behavior outbursts, and/or grade changes just to name a few.

6.  Stress Management 
             *Teach your student coping skills when things don't go as planned.  Some ideas include:
                        a. Slow down breathing, count to 10, think of something that makes them happy.                                b. Envision what the situation might look like if it turned out successful.
                        c. Allow "wait time" in life.  Challenging situations DO get better with time.
                        d. Build stamina for dealing with "hard situations".  Learn how to problem 
                                solve instead of "freak out" and/or have "doom and gloom" thoughts.
                        e. Build self-esteem and personal trust to recognize, accept and appreciate their                                         strengths, personal challenges, and imperfections.  Model how to learn from                                         mistakes to build confidence.
                        f. Help them identify the people in their lives that they can lean on to share honest
                                thoughts and feelings without judgments or immediate problem solving.

 

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