Launched in 2015, the Severn School Education Series is designed to offer useful information on a variety of topics relevant to elementary and secondary education.
A Middle School Transition by Design
Imagine what it is like to be an 11-year-old student, fresh from elementary school, joining a campus of 6th-12th graders. This transition is a time of accelerated cognitive, physical, social and emotional growth. How can a young person successfully manage those changes as they develop their identity?
Striving for perfection is a risky and fruitless pursuit for teens — “perfect” will always be out of reach. Generally, adolescents develop perfectionist tendencies when they feel insecure and seek to deflect that insecurity by presenting to others as flawless. There is little debate that this push and pull can take a considerable emotional toll on any individual. As students emphasize surface achievements such as high grades or college admissions and increasingly compare themselves to others, both perfectionism and anxiety are on the rise.
Our Responsibility to Meet the Needs of Every Student
Learning resource teachers are committed to making sure every student succeeds regardless of how they learn or what obstacles they face. We are advocates for our students, placing their needs at the center of every decision we make, every lesson we plan and every assignment we give. As pedagogy evolves and diagnoses of anxiety and attention-related health issues increase, teachers must continually ask themselves, “Is this what is best for my students?” Or, more importantly, “Is this what is best for all of my students?”
“Design Thinking” is one of the latest buzzwords in education and business today, but what is it and why the hype? The term was coined as early as the 1960s but has recently been popularized by the Kelley Brothers and Tim Brown’s design firm, IDEO. Their firm focuses on creating change through design to make a positive global impact. This spawned the Stanford d.school design thinking process and courses for educators and students.
The Middle School experience is the bridge between Lower and Upper School student success—an intense three years to foster young adolescents’ intellectual, physical, social and emotional well-being. As a result, Middle School educators need to navigate a complex terrain to support students from their Lower School years as well as prepare them for the rigors of Upper School.
How can I get the most out of school? How can I grow as a student and as a person? How and what can I contribute to make my school a true community? What are the most intriguing things going on my community? What are the problems facing my school, my community, my country, the world? What are the problems I am most interested in solving? How can I help?
Having spent my full professional life working with early adolescents as a teacher, coach, and administrator, I often consider this question. In my view, what separates a great middle school from a good one is a palpable culture, a place where students feel connected, where their teachers care about them personally. Such a school tone is tough to measure, but it is the “family-feel” in a middle school that parents should want above all else.
Children have always reveled in tinkering… taking things apart, putting things together, and exploring small and large toys, objects, and earth’s surroundings. This combination of play, joy, and discovery cultivates imagination and creativity. Tinkering is a big part of the Maker Movement. The Maker what? What is this and why is it important to children’s lives, education, and overall being?