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Educating the Child Intellectually Part 2, featuring the Middle School team
October 19, 2020, 9:00 AM

Julie McFarland:

Welcome to Immanuel's blog. This is Episode 5, Part 2, in our series “Christ-Centered Education for the Whole Child.” I am Julie McFarland. I have been teaching at Immanuel for 15 years, and I am the Middle School Math Teacher, Literature Teacher and Physical Education Teacher. 

Beth Bierlein:

Hi, I am Beth Bierlein. This will be my third year at Immanuel, and I teach science, religion and art. I'm a Renaissance teacher. 

Michele Randall:

Hi, I'm Michelle Randall. I teach English and math, and this will be my third, full-time year — sixth year — at Immanuel.

Bill Moser:

Hi, I am Bill Moser. This will be my sixth year at Immanuel. I teach history and Spanish, and today we are going to be sharing about educating the child intellectually. 

We've had our Advocacy Program at Immanuel for two years now. The Advocacy Program is a way for the students to come to one of us and utilize us as not just their teacher, but as a human being with more experience than them in living life.

They can ask questions about something that isn’t necessarily intellectual or academic, and it gives students that opening, that availability, that support to know that somebody who will not judge them will be there and listen to them on a daily basis. That's really comforting for them in a lot of ways.

Michele Randall:

We’re kind of their go-to person. They know they can come to any of us, but they're all assigned to one of us. We split the classes up pretty evenly where we'll have around 10 students, and those 10 students are our focus students. We'll help everybody, but we have our 10 focus students where we make sure that their lockers are clean, their agendas are written in and we check-in on their grades. We're just really trying to focus on the whole child, whether it's grades, socially or even tidiness.

We can focus on time management skills or study skills — the types of things that can help them be successful in the classroom and that they may not get the time to focus on individually within that immediate classroom. 

Our Advocacy Program happens during Study Hall, so we can pull the kids out privately to talk with them and work with them, but we have the freedom of a large block of time if we need it for that day or multiple times a week to meet with that child. Perhaps they're in the middle of a big project or studying for a constitution test. It's a great time to be able to give that focus and attention to that individual student. 

Beth Bierlein:

One of the things I love about our Advocacy Program is that although I'm the 6th Grade Homeroom Teacher, I'm not just advocating for sixth graders. We put a lot of time and effort into deciding which adult we think that they're going to connect with, and it really has turned out well because we've had so many positive things that have come out of it. Academic success, critical thinking skills and goal setting have been some of the highlights that I've seen as a result of our Advocacy Program.

Bill Moser:

One other thing that I've seen is just middle school cohesion in general. The classes get along better together because they're advised on how to handle the social issues that they would be ill-equipped to handle without the program.

Michele Randall:

I found that parents appreciate it as well. I've had parents reach out to me as their child's advocate and ask me, “Can you specifically address this with my child?” So it has opened up communication with the parents.

Julie McFarland:

Even if there was a child who was having a little bit of a rough morning at home, we'll get a heads-up from that particular parent. It has made it so much easier for us to work as a team to say, “This person's coming in a little bit rough around the edges today — they need a little extra loving.” It makes us feel good: one, we are informed, and then we are able to help that child get off on the right foot for the rest of the day.

Bill Moser:

The Advocacy Program also gave us the opportunity to help with the science fair we have at Immanuel, where our individual advocate students can come to us for help. I remember one student specifically came to me, not having a clue about what he would do for his project. We sat down for a good 15-20 minutes and just Google searched different basic science things until he picked a topic. Then we moved on a little and narrowed it down a little further and it got a little more specific and then even more specific. We did that for about two or three weeks, and then he just kind of figured it out and ended up passing.

Michele Randall:

You did a great job with him, and because we work as a team, you were able to do that. I think that's what makes it special for us. I know what's going on in the science classroom, even if I'm not teaching science. I know what's going on in the history classroom or the Spanish classroom, even when I'm just teaching English. I can use that cross-curricularly to help integrate our lessons, but I can also use it to help them during study hall or during our advocacy time when they do need that extra boost or that extra time or attention.

Thank you for reading. In our final post of this series, our 5th Grade Teacher and Assistant Principal Penny Suydam will be sharing about Educating the Child Physically.