Mindi Webster. Photo courtesy of Above Grade Level Fredericksburg and Northern Virginia.

Parents, Please Do THIS With Your Kids

by | Dec 13, 2014 | Columns, Schools & Education

A bi-weekly column on Fredericksburg.Today by Elizabeth Colon, Above Grade Level Fredericksburg and Northern Virginia

It is rare to find people with whom you would walk blindly into a fire, but Mindi Webster is one of those people who I trust endlessly. Her advice is always invaluable.

Mindi is a middle school teacher (some tough years for our kids). I had the pleasure of interviewing her for the purposes of this blog and you won’t believe her advice to parents!
How long have you been teaching and what subject?
I teach 7th and 8th grade English. Two of my classes are advanced 8 and my other two are Sped Inclusion 7 and 8.
What keeps you coming back year after year?
Summer … LOL!  Seriously, though, throughout the year I experience a couple of “ah-ha” moments with the kids. So despite all the rest of the nonsense that comes with this territory now, it’s those memorable “ah-ha” moments that stick and remind me. Plus, each year I have that one student who sends me a note or a card that reminds me why I teach.
What has been your biggest accomplishment with the kids this year?
This year I spent a lot of time working with my advanced students on goal-setting. And while that is not a mainstay to the curriculum, it helped keep them focused on why they do what they do each day. And I didn’t just focus on school goals. We talked a lot about the various roles they play as individuals (i.e. student, daughter, dance team member, etc.) and how important it is to understand that specific goals in each role are necessary. Our monthly reflections and check-ins helped them stay focused and I believe more successful in school.
What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge this year has been keeping the lower readers engaged. It is so difficult to get them to see a connection between their lives and what we do in the classroom on a daily basis. Low-reading scores are only one of their many challenges; it is difficult to overcome them and engage them.
What is your recommended reading list to keep kids engaged over the summer?
I recommend Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens. I have been a follower of Covey’s for a very, very long time! As my students head off to the high school, this book is indispensable! I also recommend Gifts from the Sea and The 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life. Both absolute favorites of mine! And of course, every classic they can inhale!
If you could ask parents to do one thing that would have an impact on their child, what would it be?
Eat dinner and talk to your child! My students have a lot to say. They are growing up in a very noisy world and yet it seems there is very little talking going on. I think my students crave intelligent discourse about things that matter to them. And I find that they are happy to learn and are excited to share their thoughts on more important things than their favorite movie stars and musicians given the opportunity. Read a book together and talk about it. If your family is a TV watching family, do it together and take the time to “unpack” the program. Even SyFy has some neat programming to encourage intelligent discourse.
Read Elizabeths’ other Fredericksburg.Today columns.
Columns on Fredericksburg.Today are recurrent features on specific topics or by regular contributors.  Guest writers present their own point-of-view and may not necessarily represent the viewpoint of Fredericksburg.Today.

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