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RUNNING HEAD: MISPERCETIONS OF MIDDLE SCHOOL

Amanda Delle Bovi


Research Paper: Misperceptions of Middle School
ED 524 / TCH 456
Dr. Ardito
June 14, 2016

MISPERCEPTIONS OF MIDDLE SCHOOL


There are many misperceptions about middle school that are provided by multiple
sources. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, misperception is defined as, a false
perception (Merriam-Webster, 2016). The press, popular culture, and politics are responsible
for providing some misperceptions and clarifications about middle school. Political workers
recognize misconceptions about bullying and provide clarification about this issue. Regarding
perceptions about middle school in popular culture, there is a misperception that girls are not
good at math or that being good at math is not as significant as being pretty. Concerning
misperceptions about middle school in the press, people are trying to understand why high
poverty middle schools have students who are failing mathematics. All of the misperception
have important implications for my teaching.
Political workers have attempted to provide administrators with relatively new
information about bullying behaviors. The National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau
of Justice Statistics have found that, 28% of students in grades 6-12 experienced bullying
(Scheg, 2015, p. 2). Previous perceptions about bullying involved students intimidating or being
aggressive to other students was perceived as just, schoolyard bullying (Scheg, 2015, p. 2).
Political workers are providing more information and statistics that helps to support the notion
that bullying is no longer just seen in an educational setting and it does not only involve name
calling.
The misperception that bullying only takes place in a school setting was becoming such a
problem that President Barak Obama addressed it. Lee (2011) provides a review about a speech
from President Obama that was centered around bullying. President Obama addresses the
misperception that, bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing
up (Lee, 2011, p.1). He recognized that bullying is not acceptable to should not be part of

MISPERCEPTIONS OF MIDDLE SCHOOL


adolescent development. President Obama claims that, Today, bullying doesnt even end at the
school bell -- it can follow our children from the hallways to their cell phones to their computer
screens (Lee, 2011, p.1). This statement provided by President Obama allowed people to
perceive bullying as an issue that no longer takes place just at school and technology can be
involved with the act of bullying for middle school students.
The new perception that bullying can occur off school grounds and through the use of
technology will have a major impact on my teaching. One implication is that I must create a
nurturing and safe and environment in my classroom for students to learn. I want to make sure
that students are treating with each other respect and empathy. I will do many activities in order
to incorporate social and emotional learning in my lessons. A second implication is that students
must be aware of the definition and signs of cyberbullying, what to do if they are being
cyberbullied, and how cyberbullying can be prevented. I will try and collaborate with the health
teacher or school psychologist in order to effectively help to inform my students about these
aspects.
Those involved with popular culture has provided the misperception that girls are not
good at math or that being good at math is not as significant as being pretty. Therefore, there is a
stereotype threat that could be affecting middle school girls and the way they view math. Wade
(2013) reviewed findings about gender differences in math ability and claims that, Men and
women likely have equal potential to be good (or bad) at math. But, in societies in which women
are told that they shouldnt or cant do math, they dont (Wade, 2013, p. 1). However, even
with these findings, popular culture persists the misperception that girls do not need to try in
mathematics because they are not as good at it as boys are. There were advertisements for the

MISPERCEPTIONS OF MIDDLE SCHOOL


Barbie doll, Math class is tough! (Wade, 2013, p.1). If middle school girls are influenced by
pop culture, then they will not apply themselves to try to do well in mathematics.
Social media has allowed the stereotype of girls being bad at math to persist. The use of
social media as a means of following popular culture has allowed JC Penny to share clothing
about girls and math. JC Penny sold a shirt that displayed the sentence, Im too pretty to do
math so my brother does it for me (Choke, 2011, p.1). Pictures of this shirt were posted all over
social media websites; therefore, popular culture was supporting the misperception for the
stereotype threat for middle school girls. Choke (2011) reviews a study and discusses that,
In days when girls were focused on romance, they engaged in more romantic activities and felt
more desirable, but were less focused on doing their math homework or studying for their math
class (Choke, 2011, p.1). When people support and share clothing about a stereotype, people
may believe the misperception that middle school girls should not apply themselves in math.
The misperception about middle school girls and math has many implications for my
teaching as a special education teacher. One implication is that I will have high expectation for
both male and female students. I will use positive language and focus on the math strengths of
each student. I will do this by providing constructive feedback on each of their math
assignments. When I look at each assignment, I will write a positive comment before I provide
information about how they can improve their work. A second implication this has on my
teaching is that I must provide a plethora of math resources (such as manipulatives, interactive
websites, web quests, and interactive SMART Notebook slides) so that each student can feel
supported while they are doing math. A third implication involves helping the guardians of my
students so that they do not believe the misperception provided by popular culture. On my
classroom website or my class Edmodo I can provide links to electronic math manipulatives,

MISPERCEPTIONS OF MIDDLE SCHOOL


math practice websites (such as IXL), and copies of homework so that guardians can work with
their children if they please.
The press addresses the misperception that students from high poverty middle schools
may experience academic failure in math because the work is not being differentiated or that the
students are not capable of doing well. In an article from The New York Times, Rosenberg (2015)
claims that the material is being differentiated, but teachers are not taking into consideration that
math is cumulative. Specifically, basic skills are necessary for building advanced ones
(Rosenberg, 2015, p.1). Therefore, students in high-poverty schools are trying to learn the
material from their grade level, but they may be lacking the skills from the previous grade level.
This creates even more of a divide and makes it very difficult for students to catch up.
Rosenberg (2015) claims that providing students with differentiation is not enough because math
the students are failing because they have not mastered the skills needed to solve certain
problems. If a student, is missing essential early skills and concepts, he may spend the rest of
his years of school learning nothing at all in math (Rosenberg, 2015, p.1). Rosenberg (2015)
provides information about programs that allow recommends teaching appropriate lessons for
each student on an individual basis in a logical and structured manner.
Regarding implications for my teaching, I must realize that creating different worksheets
or rewording the problems is not enough to truly help my students master math concepts.
Therefore, I must give students pretests for each unit to see which skills they have not yet
mastered, and I will provide differentiation from this point. Assuming that I just need to reword
or provide more practice for the students will not allow the students to succeed in math to their
full potential. Another implication that this has for my teaching is that I should be flexible and
plan my lessons based on the students understanding of the material. If I need to go back and

MISPERCEPTIONS OF MIDDLE SCHOOL


reteach material, I will definitely do this! Since math is cumulative, I must have a pacing guide
based on the students needs and understanding of the material. I will create essential questions
and learning outcomes based on the information from the pretests that are aligned to the
Common Core Standards.
Politics, pop cultural, and the press have provided misconceptions about middle school as
well as clarifications of these misconceptions. When it comes to the topics of bullying and math
achievement, teachers can learn more to help them clarify them create a positive learning
environment in which each student has equal opportunity to excel. If teachers can reflect on the
misconceptions and the clarifications, then they will be able to better understand adolescent
development so that they can make the best choices for their students.

Resources

MISPERCEPTIONS OF MIDDLE SCHOOL


Choke, S. (2011), Why pretty girls cant do math. Psychology Today.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/choke/201109/why-pretty-girls-can-t-do-math
Lee, J. (2011). President Obama & the First Lady at the White House Conference on Bullying
Prevention
https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/03/10/president-obama-first-ladywhite-house-conference-bullying-prevention
misperception. (2016). In Merriam-Wesbter.com.
Retrieved July 14, 2016. http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/misperception

Rosenberg, T. (2015). Reaching math students one by one. The New York Times: The Opinion
Pages. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/13/reaching-math-students-one-byone/
Sched, A. G (2015) Bullying in popular culture: Essays on film, television, and novels
https://books.google.com/books?id=14mhCAAAQBAJ&pg=PA2&lpg=PA2&dq=percept
ion+of+middle+school+in+pop+culture&source=bl&ots=4X3xVKbFo0&sig=OFLTvy1
VWTRPLrCHQXRHlvoNkI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiDzJDwjerNAhWFsB4KHe
S8CpA4ChDoAQgyMAQ#v=onepage&q=perception%20of%20middle%20school%20in
%20pop%20culture&f=false

Wade, L. (2013). The truth about gender and math. The Society Pages. Retrieved from
https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2013/03/07/the-truth-about-gender-and-math/