In the company of eighth graders: portraits from one language arts classroom in an American public school

Lindsay Hayes


In this thesis, I explore the relationships between teachers and eighth graders in an American public junior high school and the effect those relationships can have on the development of adolescents: identity, self-esteem, and self-understanding. My goal was to document the power that relationships have to influence student development in an academic atmosphere. I sought to answer the question: What is it about eighth grade that makes it so emotionally, physically, intellectually, academically, athletically, personally, and socially pivotal in the development of adolescents? This thesis delves into the teaching style of one teacher, the academic experience of eighteen students, my role as a student teacher, and a language arts curriculum at an American public junior high school in an attempt to discover the most important aspects of eighth grade development.