By Anthony Doornbos | Posted: Friday October 7, 2016
Educators during the middle years of student development need to be multi-talented and multi-skilled.
As middle schooling is focussed on emerging adolescents, teachers should be responsive to the real concerns and feelings of these students. Teacher-student relationships are not pre-empted by academic demands divorced from the physical, social and emotional needs of students. All educators involved with the middle years of schooling therefore must be concerned with the issues of engagement, motivation, opportunities and achievement of this age-group rather than the more peripheral issues of specific school structures.
Teachers of students in the middle years need to be:
The Ministry’s middle schooling research programme (2007-2010) included a review of the literature on learners’ engagement in the middle years of schooling (Gibbs and Poskitt, 2010). The reviewers identified three components of engagement: behavioural, emotional, and cognitive. The first two are preconditions of the third. That is, if students are to do the cognitive work of making meaning and building knowledge, they need to be present and participating in class and to feel comfortable and connected with their school, teacher, and peers.
Schools can improve middle school learners’ engagement in schooling through providing quality age appropriate teaching and learning opportunities, building educative partnerships with families and whanau and understanding the learners’ specific developmental needs.
Gibbs and Poskitt (2010) explain eight interconnected factors that influence student engagement:
Unsurprisingly, positive relationships with teachers and other students are critical. These researchers (p. 15) cite evidence from Te Kotahitanga (Bishop et al., 2007) suggesting the importance to Māori learners of: