In a combined middle school advisory yesterday, Sam Torres ‘08, the faculty advisor to Community Alliance, led the students in watching and discussing “I Am Not Your Asian Stereotype,” a TEDx talk by Canwen Xu.
In a recent meeting, the Middle School Team discussed how technology in general and social media in particular affects middle schoolers, kicking off what we envision will be a series of deep dive discussions. As always, we will rely on a mix of what experts and the research tell us, and how our day-to-day experience with the students - and conversations with families - further shapes our practice.
The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) recently shared the article “Seven ways parents and educators can improve kids’ middle school experience” by Phyllis Fagell, the author of Middle School Matters. I immediately clicked on it, and found a series of thoughtful suggestions and examples, each of which in fact does relate well to our own middle school program. Her seven suggestions (in boldface), and a few examples of how they have been playing out in our school:
Recently, I attended the Annual Conference of the New England League of Middle Schools. As always, it was a chance to catch up with old friends, learn about ways to better support my students and colleagues, and in general enjoy being with people who really get middle schoolers and love working that age group.
Forbes recently published an article by Frederick Hess entitled “Ten questions parents should ask before school starts.” Normally skeptical of articles that list whatever number of things people “should” do, I began to fall in love with his list at the first question, and by the third decided I wanted to answer them all. So, in order and writing as if I were speaking directly to a parent...
Every day, when I walk into my classroom, I’m thinking “Who are these kids, what do they need in general, and what does it look like they need today?” To my thinking, good pedagogy is quite simply that which enables me to know the answers to those questions and fulfill those needs.
The Association of Middle Level Education (AMLE) has been on the cutting edge of middle school practice since it was founded in 1973 as the National Middle School Association, ten years after William Alexander pioneered the middle school concept. In this context, “middle school concept” refers not just to a generic school for young adolescents but rather to a specific set of values and principles that may or may not govern a given school’s program. These are laid out and explained in AMLE’s “This We Believe,” originally published in 1983 and now in its fourth edition. Not as many middle schools are based on the middle school concept as one might wish. Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School is one of the happy exceptions.
AMLE hosted their annual conference in Philadelphia from Nov. 6-8, and I was able to attend the third day, squeezing out a visit between two nights of rock band rehearsals.
Varied Assessment: Continuous, authentic, and appropriate assessment measures, including both formative and summative ones, provide evidence about every student's learning progress. Such information helps students, teachers, and family members select immediate learning goals and plan further education. - from This We Believe, the 16 research-based characteristics of successful middle schools, published by the Association for Middle Level Education
Dear Middle School Team,
I sit here with a feeling of quiet pride. What we accomplished yesterday would be considered revolutionary in many schools, not just the decision we took but also the means by which we came to this point. And, as is always the case with us, it was a decision that put our students front and center while also keeping in mind and having consideration for the multiple perspectives of everyone involved.
I use Facebook as much as a professional networking resource as a means of keeping in touch with family and friends. I recently shared for anyone who may have been interested how proud I was of the students who recently made the GLSEN presentation in housemeeting, beginning my post by saying, “I know I say it perhaps more than I should, but students are amazing.” My mother-in-law said, “Never more than you should,” a friend added, “Never too much. Keep posting these anecdotes. It's a soothing balm to the ills of all the other junk we're seeing now.,” and Mark Springer said, “Students never cease to amaze, and we should never cease to say so.”