Copyright © 2023 Deborah Offner. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission by Taylor & Francis Group from Offner, D. (2023), Educators as First Responders: A Teacher’s Guide to Adolescent Development and Mental Health, Grades 6-12 (pages 6-11). New York, Routledge.
The majority of adolescents spend most of their time at school. Most tweens, teens and adolescent spend their time at school. It’s where their work (learning) is. It’s where their peers are and where their relationships happen. It’s also where their parents aren’t, so school is where they begin to shape their individual identities and, with any luck, begin to figure out for themselves how to deal with life’s demands and problems.
Starting around age eleven or twelve, students are increasingly aware of their own strengths and weaknesses — academically, athletically, artistically, socially and physically. They compare themselves with others and seek approval from their peers.
This process is complicated by the fact that every student moves through these changes physically and cognitively at their own rate. As the hallways of middle and high schools are filled with a wide range of heights, as well as facial…