It is hard to believe that we have reached the halfway mark of the school year. It seems that it was just yesterday students were trying to figure out their locker combinations and where their classes were on the first day of school.
At Pequot Lakes Middle School, we have core curriculum that includes the subject areas of science, math, language arts/reading, and social studies. In these subject areas, our teachers try to expose our students to rigorous curriculum that is relevant to the real world and helps prepare them for high school and postsecondary options.
Within the math and reading courses, there are advanced and remediation levels to meet all of the needs of the students. We also believe that it is important to have students experience a variety of practical arts such as music, band, choir, art, FACS, pre-engineering courses (Project Lead the Way), and keyboarding/computer applications classes.
By offering these diverse classes to students, we provide opportunities to develop their interests and strengths. This in turn can guide their course and career decisions in high school.
Middle school students are small, medium and big bundles of changing hormones. Just walk through the halls of a middle school during passing times and you will realize how unsure some students can be about their physical presence.
Transitioning from the self-contained unit structure of most elementary schools, which allows students and teachers to make quick, secure connections, to the middle school, which is centered on teams of teachers and students, sometimes means that personal connections in school take a back seat.
Yet, research has shown that the more teachers foster relationships with their students and focus on their social and emotional needs, the more academic performance, motivation and attendance improve.
In an advisory program, schools can help improve interpersonal relationships and promote cooperation in achieving student and school goals. Advisory programs can help students feel cared for by providing a personal contact for problem-solving and are an effective strategy to help students make the transition into the middle school environment. Advisers and advisees become acquainted and begin building relationships.
At Pequot Lakes Middle School, our advisory time is during homeroom at the end of the day. A small group of students meets with a teacher on a daily basis to work on academic skills and relationships. Once a month we have added “clubs” in which students in grades 5-8 may participate. Some examples of these are: yoga, quilting, knitting, mini golf, board and trivia games.
During this time students are mixed so that students in different grades have an opportunity to get to know each other during a common activity. These clubs help build peer relationships between grade levels.
Middle school students are constantly changing. It takes academic programs that have flexibility to engage students and their learning, and advisory programs that build positive relationships with students for their emotional and social development.
As parents and community members, we need to work together and support these programs to make sure our youth have every opportunity to grow as valuable members of our community.