Monday, June 18, 2012

Raising Middle Schoolers' IQ Through Character Education: Part 1

Raising middle schoolers’ EQ and IQ

According to an article from, if you think tweens and teens don't listen and don't care? Think again. If this seventh grade math teacher can get kids to be kind and work hard, you can, too.

By Jessica Kelmon

A few months ago, Trish Tingler and her teenage daughter Kelsey found a note from her middle school days in a box of keepsakes. The note, Trish recalls, meant a lot to her at the time. “As for what it meant to Kelsey," she writes, "all I can tell you is she immediately took the note and placed it front and center on our refrigerator.”

Under the heading “Caught Being Good,” the note lauds Kelsey for her hard work and determination. It came from Mark Schumacker, a teacher who regularly sends notes home when he sees students being kind or working hard in class. With its dorky font and homemade look, it's the last thing you'd expect a middle schooler to respond to — especially since it came from her seventh grade math teacher.

Teaching an oft-reviled subject to the most ugh-inducing of stages, Schumacker has a job with notoriously high turnover. His students are at an age when parents endure a spike in eye-rolling and a reticence to engage in almost everything. Some parents exhaust themselves trying to break through the hormone-induced self-absorption. Others simply give up, concluding that middle schoolers just can’t be reached. Yet this buttoned-up math teacher, who looks more like a tech exec, has discovered how to do the near miraculous — help his middle school students learn and even enjoy math while teaching them how to be kind, hardworking kids.

“Believe it or not,” he says, chuckling, “seventh graders once told me in a class meeting that I didn’t give enough homework.”


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