Sunday, September 27, 2015

Individualization vs. Connection


WOW! Reading these chapters really brought back some memories of my own struggles and risk-taking behaviors of my adolescence.  I remembered my own journey of “struggling to find a balance between individuality and connection drives adolescent identity experimentation and the fleeting passions that often accompany it” (pg 22).  

While reading I flipped back and forth to figure 2.1 on page 28.  At first when I saw the visual I was not sure what the four boxes meant.  As I read though I tried to identify my own crisis/non crisis and commitments/non commitment periods of my adolescence.  I also identified some of my students.  I work with a span of grade 6 to grade 8 and I can really see some of my seventh and eighth grade students “explore(ing) roles and beliefs, behaviors and relationships” (pg 36).  Again the pattern of a journey came up, “an achieved identity status does not represent the conclusion of the identity constructing process; rather, it is a waypoint in the individual's life long journey of understanding and constructing the self” (pg 38).  I liked how Nakkula pointed out that both students and teachers are both constructing our identities and how it is a process that is “ever-evolving” (pg 26).  It is a journey that begins mostly in adolescence and continues through-out life.  Adolescents are just experience it for the first time, and it can be overwhelming at times and we (teachers, adults, etc) need to be there for adolescence and help them along the journey on construct “healthy understanding with them, not for them” (pg 33).   Adolescents must learn how to take calculated risks, as Lightfoot says “high-risk behavior is common and deeply meaningful” (pg 44), but as the adults in the school we need to help provided experience and risks that challenge our adolescent students.  

I wished that we could have a guidance counselor at every school like Mitch Guillermo, with a 1 to 10 student ratio or less!  The attention to Julian's individuality and needs was superior, every student could benefit from the activities that Mitch and Julian worked on, but I wonder how often is this the story? To me this was a best-case scenario, I wondered what kind of attention that Antwon received.  

I also connected with some of the questioning techniques Guillermo used and Nakkula presented:

  • What did it feel like to be like that in that setting?
  • What was it like when you were with those people in that place?
  • Making a list of various spaces and relationships an adolescent must negotiate each day
  • What each of those spaces and people expect you to be?
  • How you feel in each of those spaces or with those people?
  • Where do you feel safe?
  • When do you feel anxious or uneasy?


  1. Jenny, I agree that guidance counselors like Mitch Guillermo are probably the exception, not the norm. I wonder how we, as classroom teachers, can use some of the strategies Guillermo did with Julian. Maybe I could try to delve a bit deeper as to why a student does what he/she does. Even just making an individual connection with every student is probably a good start. I'm also curious about Antwon...hopefully we will get some more insight into his journey as the book continues.

  2. I love the Full House connection! Gia was a character I always worried about and I hoped I would never have to encounter in the bathroom like Stephanie did in 6th grade. I might have been quick with answers to academic questions, but I certainly would not be as quick-witted with someone like Gia. My strategy was to avoid situations where my values might be tested. I was relatively content with my few friends and didn't care enough to know what I was missing out on.

    This video is a good reminder of all the interactions that happen on a daily basis, all the negotiations the kids have to make that we don't know about. Yet another thing to keep us humble in our interactions with them.

  3. Jenny,
    I really liked that your Full House video highlighted peer pressure as a invasive factor, and that the young lady in it, chose to stand up to her friends the second time, because she had decided which friend she wanted to be like. This happens in schools every day, and more often than not, the pressure, especially for someone with questions about who they are, it goes the other way.
    I found the stuff with the guidance counselor to be a little contrived, as I did with the stuff at the end of chapter 3, with all the MADD SKILLZ. If turning around a borderline student was as easy as assigning them an article for the yearbook, we could all do it. I also feel, that when teachers try to drop slang on young people, it mostly comes off as a miss. I think we should pay attention to what they are saying, and work to comprehend them, but use some reservation when employing their words.