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Marcus Barefield

MIDG 3001
Dr. Jamin Carson
November 27, 2006

Adolescent Profile: Sarah Smeltzer

As I begin my concentrated education and training in the field of middle grades

teaching, I am given very helpful opportunities to attain first-hand experience and

knowledge. Seeing and following a student and his or her ordinary, everyday school

routine can provide more important information and general knowledge that could never

be fully grasped just sitting in a college classroom. Seeing how a child reacts to

situations, others, school work, and teachers can teach one a lot about students today,

allowing teachers to better understand how to reach these students in innovative and

effective ways.

Students in schools today vary in uniqueness, needs, socioeconomic status, and

performance. Shadowing a student can provide you with important information in some

areas, but may be lacking in others (it all depends on the type of student). I was fortunate

enough to be given the opportunity to shadow twelve year-old Sarah Smeltzer, a seventh

grade student at A. G. Cox Middle School in Winterville, North Carolina. Sarah, being

described by one teacher as an all-around “average student”, supplied me with a rich

experience and observation of the type of student that is most commonly encountered in

schools today.

Appearance begins to play a large role in children’s lives beginning in the middle

grades years. Differences in height, as well as overall appearances, are not constant in a

middle grades classroom. These adolescent students are in a stage in which they are

continually growing and changing. Sarah stands a bit taller than five feet, Caucasian,

with shoulder-length brown hair and of average size. Look-wise she does not particularly

stand out compared to her classmates.

At first, Sarah, the daughter of the head law enforcement officer in the small town

of Winterville, seemed to be a quiet, bashful student. But as her first class of the day

continued, she became quite social with the other girls sitting around her, even passing

notes once or twice. She seemed to have a good balance, though, with conversing and

staying on task. When work was needed to be done, she seemed to perform well and

quickly. In the library, where she had the job of placing books in their designated area for

one of her periods, she was very helpful and bright.

In Sarah’s Spanish class, she tended to occasionally become a little rowdy and

playful with the girls sitting at her table. She responded well and respectively to the

teacher when the problem was addressed. At lunch (a very important time for the social

middle grades student), she did not seem to have any problems relaxing and chatting with

her friends and classmates. She seemed to have an average amount of friends and the

ability to get along with those around her well. Through my interview with Sarah, she

noted that she had her up and down days, socially, depending on the mood of the specific

day or the moods of her friends.

Also, from the interview, I was able to find out that she enjoyed ballerina dancing,

horseback riding, and had previously attended a private school. Learning about her

background and stable home life allowed me to better understand her performance and

socialization within school. I was able to see that her fortunate circumstances in her

home allowed her little distraction from her everyday routine and strong motivation from

her parents. She spoke highly of her family and seemed to be an animated and driven


Sarah is an exceptionally good student. Even within the first day of observation,

she was rewarded for two A’s she had received on tests in math and social studies. Much

of her school work seemed to be completed with little effort, given that she would finish

quickly as compared to many of the other students. She credits this performance to her

previous years in private school, which have allows her to remain ahead, academically, in

her schoolwork.

Throughout her classes, Sarah appeared to stay awake and attentive. She is a

sharp student that places importance in the lessons being taught and fully grasping new

concepts. Her habits of organization seemed to be excellent. She used her assignment

pad daily to keep track of her homework and other daily responsibilities.

Sarah also expressed her future plans. Although she is young, she has high

standards that she is determined to live up to. She wants to receive her college degree at

North Carolina State University after she graduates high school. For her career she

desired to either become a horse trainer/breeder, Prima Ballerina, or even a chef; all of

which she loves to do in some way or form at the present.

Through this observation and shadowing of Sarah Smeltzer, I was able to get a

better understanding (from an older point of view) of the everyday life of an average

middle grades student. Seeing first-hand where an adolescent student stands in his or her

mental, physical, and social development can help me to better relate and better

compensate when trying to effectively teach in the classroom. I have seen that a child’s

performance only partly depends on his or her learning atmosphere and schoolwork, but

is a large reflection of the socioeconomic status of the individual and his or her

family/guardians. This creates both an awareness and challenge that must be considered

and addressed in my future career.