Write Team: Inspiring young entrepreneurs – Shaw Local – The Times

Ask a middle schooler if you want an honest answer to a question.
This is one aspect of teaching middle school I like the best, except on my bad hair days or a wardrobe choice the students think is awful. There is no gray area. The current pandemic did a number on the educational system, but some positives resulted.
The students admitted they took their schooling for granted and now have a greater appreciation for the true purpose of school/education. They evaluated and reflected on what aspects of their learning worked well and what didn’t and owned it. The pandemic offered the opportunity for systematic approaches in our educational system to improve, but some things remain the same.
As we are coming out of the chaos of the past couple of years, I asked my students if they could reimagine what school could look like; what would that be? Of course, a great discussion ensued. The common themes were: feedback over grades, no state testing, more collaboration, choice of curriculum and how to master that curriculum, later start time, meaningful/authentic learning, and as many student-driven opportunities as possible. I listened and appreciated all their contributions.
Like most educators, I struggle with what the idea of school/education should be, just like my students. Is it grades? Teaching to the test? Consumption and compliance? My answer is a resounding NO to those questions!
Students have evolved over the years, and education needs to do the same. I still firmly believe in whole child education. My students are individuals first and students second. They are more than grades, test scores, and rule followers, and I firmly believe most educators agree. My students have aspirations, passions, talents, dreams, and goals I feel the need to tap into to prepare them for life, not just their educational journey.
However, I also know that I need to develop learning opportunities that coincide with meeting standards. This was when I decided to have my 7 grade ELA students design their businesses could run today or in the future.
This is a fundamental unit but is engaging and full of collaboration, creativity, and is student-led. I associate this with a genius hour where students can research anything that interests them and determine how to deliver their findings.
When I started this project a few years ago, it was my first adventure into the entrepreneurial world. Still, what a fantastic way to tap into my students’ passions and talents to make this idea a reality and cover a variety of standards. I am working with this year’s batch of young entrepreneurs and they again do not disappoint. The students could choose to work alone or with business partners. There are multiple parts to this task, just like there would be in a real-world setting. They were asked to create a business proposal, logo, slogan, newspaper ad, infographic, commercial, website, display board, and final presentation to be used as a selling pitch. I also have the business owners blog throughout, sharing their progress along with frustrations and high points. They also will present at our STEAM GALA where they display all parts of their businesses and their services and products. Some of the students will even make some sales! I am so impressed by their ideas! These businesses are clever and could be ready to open today!
Some of my artists will sell their artwork, mosaics, and photography. I have students who love to bake and cook design businesses that will deliver the goods directly to customers’ homes. There are landscaping businesses, babysitting/coaching/tutoring services, and the Soap Squad, two business partners that bring the car washing/detailing to you! Some of the students do not want to follow through with their ideas, but some do. Either way, it is a great way to share their talents with the world and make some money that they could save for their futures.
The journey can be stressful, but that is how it would be as a business owner. Also, they have been introduced to a variety of tools that they can use as they continue their educational/career journeys.
Research backs for students to show growth, they have to buy in and be engaged with their content. Offering student choice and including student passions/interests accomplishes that. We incorporated required standards into this project, but more importantly, real-world application of all forms of communication. Providing an authentic audience and a purpose that matters to my students motivates them to find joy in learning and create their best work. Also, they realize that they are capable of impacting their world at a young age. How they market themselves and their businesses provides them a sense of pride and accomplishment, along with seeing their hard work come to fruition with sales and potential buyers in the future.
I love the energy in the room as the students are engrossed in their creative modes. I am very proud of these entrepreneurs! They continue to inspire me! Maybe soon, there will be new, small businesses in town. In the meantime, please continue to support our local businesses.
Copyright © 2021 Shaw Local News Network
Copyright © 2021 Shaw Local News Network