(Updated from May 2019) This year may bring new uncertainties and challenges to the first day of school with your middle schoolers. But when the students settle in — in person or on a 'Zoom' — with emotions ranging from nervous to excited, it brings a smile to your face. You’re reminded yet again why you do what you do — to guide students and help them become the best versions of themselves in order to succeed in life. Get ready! It's time to make a lasting impact on this year’s crop of middle schoolers!
Middle School Students Have the Potential to Imagine Their Futures
At this stage in life, students are full of energy, but also full of raw imagination and real ideas. Middle school students have the potential to dream of the next big invention or hit song. They don’t get caught up in practical details, or let life obstacles cloud their vision. To them, the possibilities are endless — and this fearless growth mindset allows creativity to flourish. At this age, students begin to put their imagination to use in real ways, envisioning their futures with more clarity, recognizing their strengths, and expressing interest in things they enjoy doing. At the tipping point of young adulthood, with a perfect blend of curiosity and creativity — middle schoolers are basically bursting with entrepreneurial potential.
Middle Schoolers Are Creative
Students in the middle grades are creative, there’s no question about that. Particularly, students involved in music, art, coding, or language studies tend to have a keen sense of their own creative ability. Coding involves critical thinking to answer difficult questions that have never been answered before. Music fosters an ability to translate feeling into sound. This kind of creativity is a core tenant of entrepreneurship and builds innovative capacity. Beyond acquiring knowledge and mastering concrete skills, entrepreneurship requires innovative thinkers to apply their learning in new ways, to new challenges - challenges they care about. As educators, we have the chance to fan the flame of creativity, and nurture it.
Middle Schoolers Are Risk-Takers
Do you remember when you were in middle school? Were you afraid of anything? Outside of getting in trouble in the classroom, most of us were willing to pursue new paths, question why things are the way they are, or even wonder if things could be done better. This willingness to face the fear of the unknown and take risks is at the heart of the entrepreneurial mindset. Imagine where our students might go if we not only encouraged them to be brave in their learning but also showed them how to take risks effectively.
Entrepreneurship & CTE Starts Early
In schools, entrepreneurship is typically a part of Career and Technical Education (CTE). Traditionally, CTE exposes students to new career paths and provides them with skills they need to succeed in high school and beyond. CTE can be introduced before high school.
Exposing middle school students to entrepreneurship can act as an on-ramp to what’s to come in high school coursework and even later in life. It can also be a key component in promoting retention. CTE provides a space where students can engage differently with their own learning to explore their passions and build their skills in new ways. Entrepreneurship is a vehicle for middle school students to embrace lifelong learning so that they can thrive in and beyond school.
The Entrepreneurship Student
Youth entrepreneurship isn’t just about starting a business — it’s about starting to see yourself differently and to look at problems as opportunities. Entrepreneurship is actually a mindset and one that middle schoolers tend to embrace naturally. We as teachers have the chance to help our students channel their creative thinking and strategic risk-taking in productive directions. One way to do that is to introduce entrepreneurship curriculum in the middle grades.
The mxINCedu program at Uncharted Learning empowers students with the tools and mindset to explore what it truly means to be an entrepreneur. This middle school entrepreneurship curriculum allows them to work in teams to identify a key problem to solve. The teams then create a product concept, pitch the idea, and iterate in the classroom based on market knowledge and an actual e-commerce selling experience.
Collaborate with the Community
Local business professionals come in and volunteer their time to support this initiative — providing students with a real-world learning experience. Different from the freshINCedu elementary school program, mxINCedu offers more complex tools and lessons to analyze and evaluate product ideas — leading to more effective business decisions.
Entrepreneurship Skills in Action
Whether a student wants to be the next big chef or is an aspiring photographer, they’ll want to develop the core skills that the mxINCedu program helps to build:
- Critical thinking
When students learn these skills, they develop the ability to respond to and bounce back from unexpected events - a skill never more important. Resiliency is a critical life skill, not only for entrepreneurs but for anyone. Learning from challenges and having the opportunity to solve real problems promotes social and emotional learning as well as entrepreneurship capacity.
Entrepreneurship isn’t just about what students learn, it’s about how they learn — on teams, with community connections, identifying real problems, and generating actual solutions. This type of team-based, project-based learning (PBL) helps students build and apply skills in a real-world context. It’s engaging, inspiring, and empowers students to bring their choice and voice to their own learning. And best of all, it’s flexible.The mxINCedu program is 30-40 days in length, offering 26 lessons suited for remote or in-person learning — usually running eight weeks at a time, or in some cases, up to a full-length semester. And if that doesn’t fit within your school curriculum, mxINCedu is also offered as an after-school program.
Learn more about how mxINCedu can help your middle school students take their creativity to the next level and turn their dreams into a reality.