7th Grade Community Building

September 29, 2020 | Brent Harris

This has, in many ways, been the most unexpected start to a school year. Despite this year’s inherent oddness, the 7th grade students have been going with the flow in expert fashion. From the check point entry at the beginning of the day to the perpetual smell of disinfectant to the distance learners schooling from home, I’ve been remarkably impressed by how smoothly the 7th graders approach everything. Perhaps since this is during their particularly informative years, these students are prepared for any possibility.

Since it’s a weird year, the community building approach that we are used to is much different. Usually, I enjoy bonding with students and growing the community through games and activities, as well as casual conversations throughout the day. Since we are limited in what we can share and what space we can move around in, most of the class community building has come through conversations. I have learned that these students can, in fact, talk with the best of them. Sometimes a bit too much. But at the beginning of the year, too much is far, far better than not enough.


Here are a few things that I have learned about the students and that the students have learned about each other:

  1. Sasha is very good at trivia. It’s scary.
  2. Dylan and Cooper are singlehandedly decorating Mr. Licato’s classroom; it’s quite the sight to behold, and perhaps a bit jarring.
  3. Mady and Sandy should both create their own comic books.
  4. Kyle can write amazing and terrifying Cold War stories about genetically modified cats.
  5. Oskar tried to show us his dog’s new trick, but the dog did not cooperate.

These are just a few things that I’ve learned about the 7th graders so far this year. The list could be much longer. We have such a wonderful group of human beings in this class, and I am so excited to get to know them better. I find that a good metric for community quality is the decibel of laughter reached in the classroom. If that were the case, I’d say we are doing just dandy.

Brent Harris

Brent Harris

Teacher, Grade 7; Language Arts, Seventh and Eighth Grades

Brent Harris has been teaching Middle School students since 2015. He loves teaching students how to understand the world through literature and writing. He teaches English Language Arts, but he likes to teach other things too! Both of Mr. Harris' parents are educators, and despite trying his hardest to avoid following in his parents’ footsteps, he graduated from Calvin College with a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in English Education and a Minor in Physical Education; as a result, Brent is a great argument piece for any “Nature versus Nurture” debate.

In addition to teaching, Mr. Harris enjoys playing guitar and drums, listening to music, spending time outside, playing sports, and hanging out with his kind and loving wife, Lauren. A native of Ontario, Canada, Mr. Harris stays true to all the Canadian stereotypes by being extremely kind and perpetually sorry. He has been a director and counselor at multiple children’s camps in Canada and Michigan, and he appreciates the idea of teaching students and campers in a place where there is freedom to entertain new ideas and try out new things. Mr. Harris has enjoyed coaching volleyball, soccer, and baseball, and while he loves nature, he is being slowly converted into a city boy.

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