Stefanie Morseth is a social studies teacher at Marcy Open School who mainly works with 7th and 8th graders. Her students have Model United Nations as a floating unit. They started the unit in November and participated in it once or twice a week before the in-school conference at the end of March. During this time, the students went over procedures, motions, role-plays for different topics, and proper procedure. The students got to pick their own country and partner in November, but as Stef says, “middle schoolers tend to change alliances frequently.” Marcy Open participates in MUN because it is part of the state standard. Stef likes how it works with public speaking, following rules, and teaching her students to be in a structured area.
Stef thinks MUN is important because it teaches kids that they can be “proactive peacemakers in the world.” She says many of her students are very globally aware because Marcy Open has students from all over and it is extremely ethnically diverse. Stef says, “my school represents what the face of MUN looks like.” She thinks it is extremely powerful to see them choose countries of their origin. Stef likes that the MUN program teaches her students to cooperate and collaborate. She thinks it encourages active listening, being patient, assertiveness, teamwork, and builds writing skills as well.
Model United Nations has many positive effects on Marcy Open students, particularly with a few students. A student who has behavior issues won an award. He does not thrive in a classroom setting, but he shined during the actual resolution day. Stef said, “that kid is getting a boost of confidence.
Another student who is not normally outgoing would go into unmoderated caucus and give everything he had just to talk to people. She thought, “it was so cute because he felt empowered because he was talking to people.” Seeing the kids shine is one of the best parts of MUN.
Weeks of planning go into one conference, so much so that Stef thinks she may have actually over planned. The conference had really tight rules and there was a lot of planning behind the scenes. Stef likes having the conference in-house because the teachers can go through a list of the student’s names and determine who would work well in a classroom together. Having the conference at the school allows the teachers to control the situation better as well as benefiting the students. A lot of the kids did not have a lot of anxiety and they performed well. Dressing professionally got most of the kids engaged and on board. Stef says, “middle schoolers act better not around new people. They were quiet and professional.” She adds, “I am very impressed with the Model UN people. And the people they bring in with their life stories, the kids really like that.”
“When preparing for a middle school MUN conference, one generally imagines that innovative yet bizarre solutions will be worked into resolutions as students are understanding the power they have in committee. No previous conference could have predicted the success at Marcy Open. In my committee, the students were anxious to begin collaborating and putting an end to child soldiers. For the duration of a 10 minute moderated caucus, delegates were commending the actions and suggestions of their peers. These students were beyond engaged - they made this Model UN conference personal. These students know that they matter, that what they do does impact the world around them. I am still energized by the enthusiasm and dedication to problem solving these students posses, and I am inspired as a member of the community they will contribute to and improve."