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Exploring adolescent developmentwithour students

Association for Middle Level Education Webinar April 8, 2021

Dr. David Strahan, Professor Emeritus, Western Carolina University
Dr. Jeanneine Jones, Professor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Ms. Madison White, M. Ed., South Rowan High School

Physical DevelopmentCognitive DevelopmentSocial-Emotional DevelopmentPsychological Development (pp. 55-64)

From The Successful Middle School: This We Believe (2021)

Using the distinctive nature and identities of young adolescents as the foundation upon which all decisions about school are made. (p. 8)Being responsive to growth and development has been “the hallmark of middle level education since the field’s inception” (p. 55).

by. Penny Bishop & Lisa Harrison

Essential Attribute: Responsiveness

“Young Adolescent Development & Implications for Educators”

Summarizes general patterns of development and implications for practice in four areas:


The middle school years are an exciting time, as young adolescents are in the midst of profound personal change and identity development. They are growing physically, intellectually, morally, psychologically, and socio-emotionally. They are thinking deeply about who they are in relation to their race, ethnicity, social class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and other identities. They are beginning to ponder some of the quintessential questions of life. (p. 3)

10 uniqueadolescents


General Patterns ofPhysical Development

• Changes in hormones signal the development of primary sex characteristics and secondary sex characteristics. • Females typically begin puberty one or two years before males. • The onset of puberty is associated with higher incidence of peer group sexual harassment. (The Successful Middle School, pp. 57-58)

Part one

Part two

K A Y L A ' S S T O R Yby Jaleisha Hargett, Forest Hills Middle School, NCConsider the following questions in relation to a student in your classroom:What was so challenging about this student?What role did some aspect of adolescent development play in the situation with him or her?Initially, how did the ways in which you responded to this student either soothe or aggravate him/her/the situation?

K A Y L A ' S S T O R YConsider the following questions in relation to a student in your classroom:How did you try to connect to this student? Did it work?Looking back, what would you keep and what would you do differently?What does all that teach you about developing adolescents that can move you forward as an educator, especially in terms of developmental and cultural differences?


Girlhood Interrupted:

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The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood

When compared to white girls of the same age, survey participants perceive that...

• Black girls need less nurturing. • Black girls need less protection. • Black girls need to be supported less. • Black girls need to be comforted less. • Black girls are more independent. • Black girls know more about adult topics. • Black girls know more about sex.

General Patterns of psychological development

During early adolescence, students often seek to find their own individuality, uniqueness, and autonomy. - Central questions of exploration include: - Who am I? - How do I see myself? - How do my peers and adults see me? -How will I affect the world?Young adolescents benefit from a nuanced and multifaceted understanding of identity that goes beyond stereotypical expectations of group norms. (The Successful Middle School, p. 63)


W H A T I S Y O U R I D E N T I T Y ?Before we go any further, let’s do a warm-up…we want to challenge YOU to analyze identity in your life.CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:IDENTITY LABEL #1 - What is a misconception people had about you during your adolescence?IDENTITY LABEL #2- Who were you actually as a student? OR What was your “wish” label – how did you want others to see you?

Closing chat


Moving forward, what will you do to ADVOCATE for your students?

In the Zoom chat box, declare your commitment!


Dave Strahan

Jeanneine Jones

Madison White




sidesmt@rss.k12.nc.usOR madisonsides95@gmail.com