Thursday, June 21, 2012

Raising Middle Schoolers' IQ Through Character Education: Part 4

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

Methods to avoid the madness

Schumacker uses an almost scientific trial-and-error approach to improving his craft — each time with the goal of better reaching and teaching his students — though parents aren’t always immediately on board. Tom Lickona, one of Schumacker's mentors and director of SUNY Cortland’s Center for the 4th and 5th Rs (Respect and Responsibility), recalls: “He got notes from parents saying, ‘My daughter never liked math and I disagreed with your high expectations in math, but now she feels differently and knows what A work looks like.’”

Over time, Schumacker’s overcome the urge to force kids into submission. For a while he required struggling students come to class at lunchtime. “It became clear I could force them to come at lunch every day, but I can’t force them to work hard,” he says. To avoid the inevitable (and unproductive) stand-offs, he created his revisions policy to encourage students to improve their work of their own volition. Perhaps thanks to his counseling degree, he’s cultivated a safe, open environment for class meetings, where kids can give him feedback. “If something’s not working, [they] can tell me,” he says. “I won’t be mad.”

For Schumacker, success is about more than scores; it’s about instilling a passion for excellence in learning. Sally Coberly-Hough says her son Mark learned the nuts and bolts of hard work — and the value of it — in Schumacker’s class. It was laborious for both mother and son, she wrote in an email, but “it paid off!” Julie DiNapoli says her three daughters learned lasting lessons in Schumacker’s class, too. Now in high school, “they still look back at their notes from his class,” she says.


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