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Life and Learning in the 7th Grade

March 31, 2020 | Brent Harris

I’ve read and heard the word “unprecedented” a surprising number of times in the last three weeks. It’s a go-to on Twitter, a fallback for news anchors, and an easy addition to a Facebook comment. It’s hastily becoming an overused colloquial word, probably so overused that I’d suggest a student use a different word in a formal essay.

However, there are few words that fit our current situation more aptly. These are unprecedented times. It’s all new territory.

In many ways, the terrain in this new territory is rocky and tough. And for some of us, the territory is rockier than tougher than it is for others.

Every once in a while, though, there’s a patch of beauty and brilliance that shines through the dark clouds. For me, that beauty has come in the form of the students. I’ve been constantly impressed with the 7th grade students.

First, I’ve been impressed with their ability to accomplish their work. They are finding time throughout the day to get their work done, and to do it well. Take, as a quick example, their science exhibitions—they navigated new terrain and completed their presentations in a dazzling manner.

Second, and I think more importantly, the most unprecedented part is how the students are handling this time socially.

The 7th graders are, by necessity, finding meaningful ways to socialize. Whether it’s playing a game with me or chatting ravenously on Google Hangouts, the students are staying connected. As their homeroom teacher, I’m all too familiar with the wild amount of socializing these students do during the day; but they are surprising me—during this time away from school—with their dedication to one another.

It’s inspiring and beautiful. I am thankful for a group that values community so highly.

Here is a virtual “Thumbs-Up” from Mr. Harris commending their good work. It’s the best picture I got from our live class last week.


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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