Normally, I’m not big on articles with titles like “12 Things That Will Disappear From Classrooms In The Next 12 Years.” But the link had been shared by Leslie Farooq, whom I’ve gotten to know and learned to trust through ongoing interactions and Twitter chats, and she had included an enticing quote - so I decided to click through and read it.
republished with the kind permission of MiddleWeb
Every spring, we ask our middle schoolers to look at each of their courses as well as other areas of their life, think back to September, and reflect on how far they’ve come and what they’d still like to accomplish before the year’s end.
(read more here)
Imagine a room full of thousands of middle school teachers, our students at the forefront of our minds, singing “I hope you dance” along with Tia Sillers, the co-composer, various Nashville-area musicians, and Ms. Sillers’s brother-law, Monte Selby, who had chosen to sing his keynote address at the 2006 National Middle School Association Annual Conference. It was deeply moving, and something I can still very clearly play back in my mind.
Today was our first day of classes, and the beginnings of this year's 2015-2016 Humanities 7 class coming together as a community. As always, we began with Jonathan London's wonderful jazz poem "Hip Cat" with its theme of "Do what you love to do and do it well." These kids, at least some of them, have definitely figured out already that learning is a process, something at which you might steadily improve but also something that involves challenges and roadblocks and stuckness. Equally important, they view that kind of attitude as fundamental to who our school is.
This We Believe, published by the Association of Middle Level Education, lists the 16 research-based characteristics of successful middle schools. It also includes information on young adolescent development - cognitive-intellectual, physical, moral, psychological, and social-emotional. We as a faculty, along with any interested staff members, are reading the book this summer.
(originally written on May 31, 2015)
I’ll be honest - this is not normally the time of year when I feel the best about my work. As much as I try hard to make every minute count (a refrain I share with my students throughout any given school year), the sudden absence of the cushion of “Okay, she did better in these ways, but she’s still got to work on this. That’ll be for the next unit!” hits hard. Luckily, the sadness my students generally express as we prepare to go our separate ways over the summer, and the kind words they say about my class in the process. go a long way toward helping me keep the faith to some extent. And with time, and rest, and more time, perspective returns.
By the time I got to our usual table for Monday’s Middle School Advisory Lunch, three of my advisees had already sat down and were deeply engaged in conversation. As new advisees arrived, they joined in, and as I listened in, smiled, and nodded, I couldn’t help but think that everyone was in a good mood today and also that through the year everyone had become really, wonderfully, comfortable with each other.
In the MiddleTalk educators’ group, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School has become inseparably entwined with the question “What would you do if you were brave?” since my answer to that question when asked by group member Brenda Dyck more than a decade ago was “I would start a middle school.” One year later, of course, I became part of the committee that helped found SBMS.
Check “starting a middle school” off my to-do list!
In light of my recent post on North Branch School, here's the letter to the editor I wrote to Middlebury Magazine back in Spring 2010 (just before we graduated our first-ever six-year Seniors). Enjoy!
To the editors:
I very much enjoyed reading the description of North Branch School and its dynamic head teacher, Tal Birdsey in the article “School Building” (Spring 2010). In his quest to create “a house where wisdom would flourish,” where “mistakes [could] become part of the discussion,” where students were acutely aware that “the only thing of lasting value was what they created in the liminal zone between who they were and who they were becoming?”, Mr. Birdsey is clearly meeting his fundamentally important goals. I would love to visit his school some day.