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Fires in the Middle School Bathroom


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Table of Contents



Introduction: Journey over a Bridge 1
"Middle school still teaches you, but it's a part of growing up."

1. Everything Is Off Balance 14
"We're not really sure what's expected of us."

2. A Teacher on Our Side 39
"An ideal teacher understands and pays attention to the kid.
They should be friendly, but not too friendly."

3. Social Forces in the Classroom 66
"Everybody grew up together but still, we don't talk to each other
as much as you would think."

4. Helping Us Grow into Confident Learners 103
"Sometimes I want to ask the question, but I don't want to seem
like I'm dumb."

5. Using Our Energy to Help Us Learn 132
"It's not going to be boring because you'll be doing something
that you like to do."

6. Make Way for Parents 151
"Parents should change when you get to middle school."

7. Our Transition to High School 170
"That's all I was thinking about all summer long, staying up late:
What's high school going to be like?"

Epilogue: Through the Kaleidoscope 193
"Teachers don't know what the kids are thinking,
they only make a guess."

Resources for Middle-Grades Teachers 201

Acknowledgments 206

The Student Contributors 209

Index 215

About the Author

Kathleen Cushman is the author of Fires in the Bathroom (The New Press). She lives in New York City. Laura Rogers, EdD, has a doctorate from Harvard University and twelve years experience as a school psychologist working with adolescents. She teaches at Tufts University and lives in Harvard, Massachusetts.


"This book brings out the essence of what, and how, middle school kids think. Teachers can learn from them not just new teachers, but those who have been in the field for a while."
-Deborah Kasak, Executive Director, National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform

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