Jason certainly is going through a lot of physical, neural and cognitive changes that might be causing him to feel emotionally unregulated. The need for peer acceptance, the fact that he does not want peers knowing that he excels academically, the skin problems, and the growth spurt might result in mood swings. In other words, Jason is able to better regulate his emotions in some situations but not in all situations. I’d recommend having him monitored by parents, teachers and the school counselor in order to make sure there is no substance abused or depression diagnose. According to Manning and Bucher (2012) depression can also be manifested through irritability, negativity, sarcasm, criticism and somatic symptoms in adolescents that are not cognitively mature (35). Therefore, Jason’s parents and teachers should definitely schedule a counseling session with the school’s counselor since he might be exhibiting signs of depression. The counselor could also address Jason’s need of peer acceptance and “fitting in”.
As for the difficulties on grasping abstract math concepts, I would recommend that teachers vary their techniques, provide extra resource, simplify the steps of a problem, adjust the complexity of the assignments or even give the student an entire different placement. Another interesting point emphasized by Wormeli (2001) is that teachers should constantly look for more professional training (63). That makes sense since we are living in a rapidly changing world that “obligates” people, including young adolescents, to rapidly change as well. As a consequence, teens have been feeling more stressed and unbalanced. The fact that he is doing well in science and social studies and is declining just in math, might be a sign that he is not cognitively ready for abstract thinking or for certain types of abstract thinking such as in algebra. Parents and teachers should monitor his overall progress and adjust the ways he is able to learn. Not being able to grasp abstract concepts might also be stressful to Jason! Few months ago he was just fine and all of a sudden he can’t solve algebra questions. It is equally important that parents, teachers and the counselor are in frequent contact and define a date for the evaluation of Jason’s progress. The progress evaluation meeting would be “Student-Led” (Brown and Knowles, 2007, 201), in order words, Jason should not only be there, but also actively participate in the discussion about his own progress. Based on the conversation, parents, teachers, school counselor and Jason should either change strategies or celebrate his achievements.
The plan would be composed of the following steps:
- Jason would meet with the school counselor once a week in order to discuss peer pressure, rule out substance abuse and depression and discuss Jason’s perspectives on all the changes that his body is going through and how that might affect his academic performance.
- As Jason decline academically just in math, the math teacher would help Jason through the general adjustment of the subject complexity such as breaking a math problem down, varying his teaching techniques and simplifying steps of an algebra question.
- Parents, teachers, counselor and Jason would meet again in 6 weeks to discuss Jason’s progress.
My plan was very similar to the suggestions given by the text. However, although I should’ve, I did not address the matter of incorporating topics such as peer pressure, substance use and growth spurts in their advisory programs (Manning and Bucher, 2012, 49). Also, I believe that I considered points that the suggestions given by the text did not consider such as depression, stress and include Jason in his own progress evaluation meeting. Brown and Knowles (2007) emphasize the importance of Student-Led conferences since it put young adolescents in a position of responsibility for their academic growth (200).
Brown, Dave F, and Trudy Knowles. What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know. 2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007. 290. Print.
Manning, M. Lee., and Katherine T. Bucher. Teaching in the Middle School. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print.
Wormeli, Rick. Meet me in the Middle: Becoming an Accomplished Middle-level Teacher. Portland, Me.: Stenhouse, 2001. Print.