Dear Parents, September 7, 2017
I want to personally welcome you to Murchison Middle School. I am proud to say that this is my 24th year at MMS and I’m beginning my 30th year to teach. So, as you can see, I really like it here and I hope to have another productive year in 2017-18.
I have decided to take a new approach to my Science Syllabus/Parent Information that I send home every year. My goal is to have a more personalized approach and I hope I have accomplished that with this letter and with the information I’m sending home.
The Student & Parent Information sheet is double-sided and I ask that you please read all the way through it prior to reading and signing the Parent Checklist for Science Info to return to Science Teacher. The Checklist is for me to know that you’ve got a solid understanding of some of the overall aspects of 7th grade science so that you’re not trying to figure it out well into the school year. My hope is that I can give clear information early on to eliminate confusion and questions later in the year. So, this can be an easy reference to my class for the year for you and for your seventh grader. Hopefully the checklist will make more sense once you’ve had a chance to read through the short syllabus.
I’ve also included a Syllabus for the year for 7th grade science, which is yours to keep at home.
Of the information in this packet, the only page that is required to be returned to me by September 5th and 6th (or earlier) is the Parent Checklist page. The rest of the info is for your 7th grader to keep and refer to throughout the year if they forget some of the information.
In all the years as a teacher of adolescents----and a parent of them as well---- I’ve tried to stay current on new scientific findings concerning the teen years. Without a doubt, the newest research, both on a scientific and psychological level, has been quite interesting and captivating. While my own children progressed through adolescence, I found that attempting to understand the reasons for their behaviors was helpful in many ways, and assisted my husband and me with ideas to help guide them through the tougher times. There has also been lots of helpful information in current works about adolescents in how to help them understand the consequences of their behaviors. And, sometimes we don’t necessarily always understand why they do what they do.
Since the human brain develops from the back to the front during fetal development, the pre-frontal cortex--the front part of the brain above the eyes--is forming as they progress through adolescence. This means that their impulse control, prioritizing, executive functions, and decision making are constantly in flux. This area of the brain is being pruned back and re-growing, so to speak, during adolescence, when our children are placed in some of the most difficult decision making circumstances they have ever been exposed to. Even though this is a frightening thought in and of itself, there is a plethora of information out there that can prove to be informative, helpful, and affirming of the care and guidance you already give your seventh grader, and the care you continue to give.
One specific book I’m currently reading, also speaks to the importance of students at this age being able to learn from their mistakes in all aspects of their lives and especially in their academic world. How can we expect them to understand a consequence of a choice they’ve made, change the behavior and learn how to respond to the setback or failure, if we do not allow them to attempt this at this time in their lives? If not now, when? And, isn’t it better that they learn some tough lessons now, rather than when it can impact them more than when they get to high school or college?
There’s a list of suggested reading for parents of adolescents on my website, but the two books listed below are the most recently published books I’ve read and am reading. I’ve included the titles, authors, and a few quotes as well.
Even if you already have methods in place that work well with your 7th grader, please keep in mind there will be some major changes in them this year---physically, emotionally, and psychologically----and that some of these current publications can be informative, helpful and affirming as you navigate your way through with your seventh grader.
Thanks for letting me share this information with you and I hope it will assist and inform you throughout the year. I look forward to a great year in Science with your 7th grader.
Sincerely, Karen Green, 7th grade science, Murchison Middle School
The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and YoungAdults by Frances E. Jensen, MD with Amy Ellis Nutt Quotes below are from this book:
“Children’s brains continue to be molded by their environment, physiologically, well past their mid-twenties. So, in addition to being a time of great promise, adolescence is also a time of unique hazards.” Page 7
“But the most important advice I want to give you is to stay involved.” Page 13
“Our best tool as they enter and move through their adolescent years is our ability to advise and explain, and also to be good role models.” Page 13
“Multitasking is not only a myth but a dangerous one, especially when it comes to the teenage brain.” Page 41
“In the last decade, the National Institutes of Health conducted a major study to examine how brain regions activate one another over the first twenty-one years of life. What they found was remarkable: the connectivity of the brain slowly moves from the back of the brain to the front. The very last places to “connect” are the frontal lobes. In fact, the teen brain is only about 80% of the way to maturity. That 20 percent gap, where the wiring is the thinnest, is crucial and goes a long way toward explaining why teenagers behave in such puzzling ways—their mood swings, irritability, impulsiveness, and explosiveness; their inability to focus, to follow through, and to connect with adults; and their temptations to use drugs and alcohol and to engage in other risky behavior. When we think of ourselves as civilized, intelligent adults, we really have the frontal and prefrontal parts of the cortex to thank.” Page 37
How to Raise an Adult: Break free of the over parenting trap and prepare your kid for success, by Julie Lythcott-Haims
Quotes below are from this book:
“In his 1999 book, Raising Adults: Getting Kids Ready for the Real World, sociologist and longtime church-based youth worker Jim Hancock points out that if we think we’re raising children, then what we’ll haveat the end is just that-----children; instead, he urges that our task is to raise adults. “ Page 78
“There are two things children should get from their parents: roots and wings,” said German writer, poet and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It’s time to start examining what it means to give our kid wings. It’s time to imagine what we hope they’ll be able to be and do when they’ve grown, left the nest, and gone wherever the wind takes them. “Page 73
….”I see that we want everything to be good and comfortable for our children. But that isn’t the reality of the world we’re preparing them for. They don’t learn responsibility or accountability for their own behaviors. They don’t get the chance to stumble or build resilience.” Page 74
*****Ms. Green originally wrote this letter but Ms. Guerrero and Ms. Moringy agree with the information.*****