Anthony P. DeMarco
September always seems to go so fast in a middle school! We are entering October already. I want to welcome families back to our school community. We look forward to working with you so that we can all provide the highest levels of education possible for our students.
We have had an exciting start to the new year. We recently finished our renovations to the school’s infrastructure and HVAC systems. The school colors are now proudly on display throughout the building thanks to a much needed refreshing. Students and parents have commented on how nice the building looks and feels. We are grateful to the community for supporting the warrant article two years ago that allowed the renovations to take place.
I hope that by this point in time that your child has settled in to the routine of their classes and feel comfortable. The transition to the middle school from the elementary schools can be difficult for some students and very easy for others. Each student is different and will handle the transition differently. We are here to support students through the transition. Our school counselors are available and our teachers are experienced in helping to ease students into the middle school.
For most of the incoming students, this is the first time that they are changing classes for all of their courses. The identified best practice for middle schools is to place students on teaching teams. Teaching teams help students still feel and develop a connection to adults much as they had in the self-contained classrooms at the elementary school while preparing them for the high school and beyond. Instead of having one teacher that they are with all day, students are on a team of two, three, or four teachers. The team is responsible for a smaller number of students and meet on a regular basis to discuss student concerns. The teachers discuss concerns and work together to strategize what works for students in each of their classes to provide students with consistency. This consistency extends to the teams expectations as well. Teams plan together to make sure they are not overloading students, yet provide students with a guided independence that allows them opportunity to grow.
Time management can be a problem for middle schoolers just as it is for adults. It is often difficult to balance school with all the other activities that are available to students. The teams provide time for students to help them organize themselves and make the best use of their time. Our PTO provides every student with an “Agenda Book” for students to write down their assignments. Every team has a team web page where assignments are listed out for the week. Teams will often give students the opportunity to begin assignments in class so that they can ask questions and get help with the assignments. Providing your child with a quiet space at home at a consistent time helps them to understand the importance of planned study time. On days when they don’t have homework, having them use that time to read a pleasure book keeps the routine in place for them.
We encourage the students to ask questions on topics they may not fully understand. One of our goals is to help students become comfortable and develop the skill of advocating for themselves. This is one of the reasons that we provide our students with their own access to PowerSchool and to their grades. PowerSchool can be great tool to help your child take ownership and responsibility for their education. It provides students with the ability to check their progress throughout the marking term in between report cards. However even with all of the positives that PowerSchool has to offer, it can also have a negative effect if students begin to check it too often and begin to put undue pressure on themselves. Like all good things, PowerSchool is best in moderation. Weekly check-ins are great, daily check-ins are not. We want students to take ownership of their education in a healthy way.