Thursday, September 15, 2016 is Back-to-School Night for Middle School parents. The program begins at 7:00 pm in the Meeting Room in the Upper School building, and we wrap up by 9:30 pm.
This year we will be sending parents their schedules for the evening via email on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. Please watch for the email and, if you would prefer a printed to copy to viewing the document on your phone, please download and print a copy.
From the Director's Chair
We are off to a wonderful start in the Middle School! The beginning-of-the-year jitters seem to have worn off, and our students and faculty are now fully engaged in learning as we began our first five-day week today. We opened the year by focusing on our school-wide theme of community.
An effective way to begin a conversation with middle school students about community is to ask them to highlight ways we build paths and ways we build walls on our journey toward creating community. Include others, smile, respect differences, forgive mistakes, welcome new students, and help each other when needed are some responses quickly offered by students for building paths. Exclude, tease, hold grudges, judge others, disrespect different viewpoints are common responses when students offer behaviors that build walls. By large measure, our students get it, and they want nothing more than to feel part of a safe and prosperous school community. Much of our time in the beginning of the school year is spent helping establish community norms with our students, who are quite insightful and creative.
A challenge in building community is developing awareness to recognize when we or those around us have acted in a manner that is harmful. Further, owning mistakes and utilizing communication strategies to make it right with the person or persons who have been harmed can be exceedingly hard for students and adults alike. We know that mistakes are common within a community, and middle school is often the proving ground for learning how to react and respond after a mistake. One of our goals is to help our students learn how to respond in a way that builds community and restores relationships.
The creation of the norms for community behavior is the easy part, and the hard part is engaging with one another in a thoughtful and empathic way when we act, intentionally or unintentionally, in a manner that goes against the norms. We seek to teach these restorative skills in our advisory and assembly programs, when we resolve conflicts, and when we work through social challenges with our students. Part of our vision statement for our Middle School community, which is found in our handbook on page 26, asserts “…Our actions reflect understanding of the learning and community goals of our School. When we make mistakes, we learn from them and restore relationships and trust with those affected.”
In our opening assembly last Wednesday, we challenged students to think about what they stand for and shared that we believe restorative and community-minded skills will be critical for us to build more just, peaceful and inclusive communities in the future. Before we send them out into the world to solve the major problems we face in our nation and in our world, we begin right here in our school community.
Our opening week has been tremendously successful and our students have engaged in many community-building activities like advisory, our block party, community assemblies, and lunch together in homerooms. Please enjoy these photos of our opening week, and we look forward to seeing you on Thursday, Sept. 15, for Back-to-School Night.
Director of Middle School