What I know about child/adolescent development and how it informs my philosophy of instruction.

I was an English major and a Women’s Studies major in college and studied American Literature in graduate school, so my formal knowledge of adolescent development is limited.  I am looking forward to reading Pressley and McCormick’s (2008) Child and Adolescent Development for Educators and, especially, Brain Rules (I have used the “brain dance”/Bartenieff fundamentals as a cycling instructor.)  And I am very much looking forward, as a high school English teacher, to having a larger “toolbox” of knowledge about adolescent development: cognitive, emotional, and social as well as physical.

Most of what I know about child and adolescent development I know as a parent, and most of it is derived from own experience and the experience of friends with similarly aged children.  I read Penelope Leach’s books on attachment parenting multiple times when I myself was raising kids, “birth to age five,” and I think that successful teaching, like successful parenting, requires a relationship founded on acceptance, consistency, trust, and positive interactions.

I recently read Daniel J. Siegel’s (2014) Brainstorm:  The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain.  I like Siegel’s claim, that our society needs the “stormy” nature of the teenage brain, and the resultant ability to take risks, live in the moment, fight for what we believe, and be flexible with changing situations and changing identities.  One way in which I hope this informs my philosophy of instruction is by helping me value those qualities in my students as much as I value some of the more “forward brain” qualities (organization and planning and the ability to parse tasks, for example) that I ask my students to practice, and that our public education system requires them to develop.

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