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.
When the United States launched airstrikes that killed General Qasem Soleimani and others shortly before we returned to classes from winter break, I was pretty sure the students in my seventh grade Humanities class would want to talk about it. As I sifted through posts and articles, verifying facts, weighing opinions, I kept in mind these important precepts:
- My kids would want clarity. What were the facts of what had happened?
- My kids would want to feel safe. I can’t control world events, but I can help create a classroom atmosphere where my students could honestly say what they were thinking and feeling, knowing there would be things on which they’d all agree and other areas where they would have a range of opinions.
- My kids would want hope. Here, I often turn to Mr. Rogers’s famous dictum to “look to the helpers.” I’m also well aware that any concrete action kids can take can also be helpful.
- My kids would need the comfort of familiar routines.
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.
by Faith Hargrove '24 (written in Humanities 8)
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:
(with thanks to MiddleWeb for originally publishing this review)
As a teacher in a girls school, I’m acutely aware that my students (girls and non-binary kids alike) often feel trapped between two opposing yet interlocking ideals our culture sets for them – to be their true authentic selves, and to please other people.
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.
I think Greta was very influential to a lot of young activists, and I also am really happy people from my generation are doing so much, and it’s making me have ideas of things I could do too. - 7th grade SBS student
Doves adorn the staircase to the middle school, twirling gently in the air currents, still exuding the active hope for peace expressed by the students who made them and arranged them. At the top of the staircase sits a totem pole, made by the class of 2019 back when they were seventh graders, expressing who they were at the time and thus, in many ways, who they are now. I walk into the middle school lobby, where soon enough kids will start to flood in, flopping on the chair and couch, half sitting on each other’s laps as they chatter about any- and everything that crosses their minds. I walk into my room, past the Black Lives Matter, Girl Power, and LGBT Safe space signs on the door, and arrange the blue beanbags in a half circle. Soon, kids will half-walk, half-run into the room and either drop their backpacks on their beanbag of choice, whirl, and return to the lobby, or drop down to relax and hang out with their friends as they arrive.