This week I asked my 140 seventh grade students, “What are you looking forward to in 2013, and how can the adults in your life best help you with this?” The resulting answers provided a fascinating set of small ways teachers, parents, and mentors can help kids in 2013. 1. Connect them with creativity and the arts.
2. Give them academic encouragement.
“I am excited to do more dancing because I love dancing so much.”
“In school, our interdisciplinary Essential Question in term four is partially about art, and I really love art. Exploring that question is something I am looking forward to.”
“I am excited to be in two plays next spring: “Grease” in March here at school, and “101 Dalmatians” in May at my community center.”
“Our school projects in 2013 are going to be awesome, especially the final project! There is going to be so much creativity in it.”
- Chris W.
“Adults can help me study, push me to do my best, and to never get upset when I don't understand, but instead help me understand.”
“I am looking forward to getting better grades and improving my writing skills. I guess the best way to help is encouraging me because it would help me to focus and write better.”
- My Ho
“Adults can encourage me to study more, and help make good mnemonics to remember facts. They can encourage me to get good grades and be prepared, tell me to do my homework, and study really hard to get the straight A's.”
3. Provide opportunities for physical activity.
4. Connect them with enrichment programs.
“I am really looking forward to being on a baseball team this winter and spring. The team name is "Fury." I am looking forward to this because I really enjoy baseball and being able to play with elite players can help me get a lot better. But I will practice a lot because you know what they say, ‘Practice makes perfect!’”
“What I am looking forward in 2013 is the Hockey team because my old school didn't have a hockey team.”
- Timmy G.
“What I am looking forward to in 2013 is to play my summer softball. I really like it. The best part is we get to go away 4 or 5 tournaments out of state. That is really fun! Adults can get me to clinics to help me get better at it. I know I am already good, but I can always use more practice.”
5. Know they love technology.
“My mom helps me a lot because she finds really great programs for me to go to. I get lots of experience working with other peers. She is also really supportive, and if she hadn't enrolled me in Steppingstone, I wouldn’t be where I am today!”
“I am looking forward for new technology in 2013. I mean think about it, there is really good technology today and it is just expanding to make things even better.”
“I'm not really sure if this will happen, but I hope our school would spend a little more money on technology.”
- Henry D.
“I would look forward to the inventions of new cars and phones. I look forward to new phones because there will be new ones and better than any phone in the world. In 2013 there even will be flying cars, I hope.”
6. Ask them how they are doing.
“They can ask me more often how I'm doing in class and what we are learning.”
“They can help me with work and ask me how my day was and if I'm doing ok."
7. Help them structure their time and get motivated to achieve academically.
8. Academically and emotionally support them in taking high-stakes tests.
“Not procrastinating is one of the ways I can start getting better grades. I seem to procrastinate with my work a lot. I always seem to wait until the last minutes to either turn something in or even to get it done. This is a horrible strategy. I am looking forward to stop procrastinating in 2013! When trying not to procrastinate it is very helpful to have somebody who is pushing you along: somebody to guide you along the road. The adults in my life can help me because they can guide me through how to start. After a while I am hoping to do it by myself without anybody reminding me.”
“Most of the time I do my projects at the last minute, which doesn't bring out my best work. The adults (such as my parents) can help me on my projects by maybe setting me a schedule on what I should on what day for a project. Also the adults can force me to do it on certain days.”
“Adults can help me stay on top of everything I need to do. They can also help me by making sure I don't put too much on my plate at once. They can also help me by making sure I'm staying on top of my schoolwork and getting good grades because without these I won't be able to have a good future.”
“In 2013 I want to see if I could have High Honors and be able to make my mother proud of me and maybe she will get me things, but I am mainly going to try to do it so I can make my mother proud. I think adults in my life could push me to try extra hard and make sure I am doing the best I can. It will also be nice if they try to trick me and offer me things if I do things correctly.”
- Xavier O.
9. Give them hands-on, engaging learning.
“The one thing I am not looking forward to is MCAS [the Massachusetts school test]. That gives me so much stress.”
“In school I'm looking forward to do the MCAS because I need to do that so I can get to my summer vacation. I also looking forward to see what score I get.”
“I also am looking forward to MCAS because I like to take tests no matter what the subject is.”
“In 2013 I am looking forward to passing the MCAS.”
10. Provide them with the basic supplies they need.
“The thing I'm most looking forward to in 2012 is doing lots of projects! That's because I really enjoy doing projects to make class more fun. It entertains us as well educating us too! Teachers can make class entertaining and exciting: something I can remember when I get out of school and say, ‘Wow that was fun!’”
“I'm looking forward more group activities and performances. I have a lot of fun doing things like that.”
11. Connect them with new peers from diverse backgrounds.
“Adults could also help with helping get more supplies as I'm running out of notebooks.”
- Xavier M.
“The adults in my life can serve me the healthy foods that prevent me from illness.”
12. Give them novelty.
“Teachers can help me if we SWITCH SEATS in class. And when I say switch I don't mean move 5 seats over to the left. I mean sit with someone else who you don't really know.”
“I am looking forward to a new beginning. I want to join clubs at school. I want to do these things because I like to be active in the community. Adults can encourage me to join more clubs. They can help me to be the best I can be.”
“I can't wait to go back and remember my first year at this school. I have met so many people and have changed.”
“I am looking forward to the new year and doing different stuff since it will be 2013. Adults can also take me new places so I can experience new things.”
“I am looking forward to a new year. Every year gets old after a while and I can't wait to see what is in store for me in 2013. And it is a odd year.”
13. Give them reassurance that adults are working to make the world a better place, and give them opportunities to help if possible.
14. Listen to their ideas and follow their suggestions sometimes.
“What I am looking for in 2013 is an end to world hunger, homes for the homeless worldwide, peace in the Middle East, and a better economy for the USA and for the world, and help the sick people worldwide. What adults can do is to help contribute to end world hunger, and to contribute to help the homeless. Also doctors can help find cures for diseases that the sick have. Adults can take responsibility for their actions to help for peace in the Middle East.”
“A thing I am looking forward to is a better future. What I mean by this is a possible jump in the economy that could make lives easier for my family as well as others.”
“I think adults in my life can sometimes do what I want. My parents would sometimes ask me for opinion but they end up not doing it. I mean, if you ask me, doesn't it mean you're trying to do what I think? Sometimes, they should keep their promises.”
15. Give them chances to be mature.
16. Give them fun, including YOU having fun, too!
“In 2013, I’m looking forward to being 14 years old! Even though that's 9 months away. But when I turn 14, I will be only 2 years away from being able to drive! How super exciting is that? Well, my parents probably won't let me drive until I’m 20, but I'm gonna keep hoping.”
“I am looking forward to the new seventh graders that I will see. I am looking forward to this because I can't wait to meet them.”
There you have a small window into the minds and hearts of a diverse group of 12 and 13 year olds in a Boston Public School. What do these responses make you realize or think about? What have the kids in YOUR life told you they are looking forward to in 2013, and how can adults best help them?
“It would be nice if adults were there to support me and want to have as much fun as I do. Also if they don't mind spending a couple dollars so that I can have fun! But really just if they don't mind having fun and enjoying the fun times.”
- Chris W.
“Adults can help me have fun this year by having fun as well.”
- Julia M.