MECS Blog

Why Middle School?

Why Middle School?

Thursday, 8 September 2016  | Brad - MS Coordinator
Not all schools embrace the model MECS has adopted, so why do we?

Why do we feel it is important to have a unique section that is part of the Secondary School, but dedicated to the adolescent age group?

“What do you do for a living, Brad?”
“I’m a teacher at Mount Evelyn Christian School.”
“Oh yeah, cool! Primary or Secondary?”
“Middle School. Years 7–9.”
“Why Middle School?”

This is a question I have encountered a lot over the course of my time at MECS. Some people seem to have a hard time understanding why a person would willingly choose to spend their time with teenagers. For me, the answer is quite simple: I love it! I love working in the Middle School and I am dedicated to, and passionate about, teaching Middle School students.

Over the course of any given year, Middle School students can range in age from 11 to 16 years old—right in the heart of adolescence. Adolescence is a fascinating stage of life in which to encounter a person. It is a time of profound change, a time of transition from childhood toward adulthood, a time of potential, discovery, and passion. It is also an extremely influential time in the development of a person’s worldview, a time when one grapples with identity, the source of their worth, and ‘finding their place’ in God’s world. As Middle School teachers, we are granted the privilege of speaking into some of the most formative and influential years of a person’s life.

Given the array of changes occurring in these years, it should come as no surprise that there is a similarly wide range of student needs specific to this age group. In recent years, the Middle School staff has engaged in focussed and intentional professional development around understanding and effectively teaching this age group.

One of the voices that has most consistently resonated with the culture and vision of MECS is that of Rick Wormeli, an American author and educational consultant. In an interview with Education World, Wormeli described a number of strategies that assist in engaging Middle School students in the classroom. Our Middle School teachers aim to incorporate these strategies into the practice and planning of their lessons, and I’d like to share them with you:

Make it vivid – We aim to actively involve students in their learning, by frequently utilising experiences, immersions, and simulations.

Engage the emotions – Learning is not just about head knowledge! We don’t just aim to keep students interested in their learning but anxious to learn more.

Be novel – Expect the unexpected! We aim to mix things up and take advantage of unexpected learning opportunities.

Use more narrative – Middle School students have been immersed in stories throughout their entire lives and are used to the format. Where appropriate, we aim to introduce information in a narrative form.

Provide specific models of what we expect – Students need to know where to aim if they are going to kick a goal. We aim to provide students with exemplars (excellent examples) and past samples of student work to guide their efforts.

Provide frequent and specific feedback – Feedback is consistently identified as one of the most important elements of education. We aim to use a variety of assessment and feedback strategies, including written and verbal feedback, peer assessment and self-assessment.

Passion – Students can sense when a teacher is passionate about their subject. The way a teacher talks about their field of expertise and demonstrates how they are continually learning has the potential to inspire a similar passion in others.

Why Middle School?

Well, in the words of Rick Wormeli:

“Every day, we Middle School teachers laugh aloud, ignite imagination, heal pain, confront our own beliefs, quell fears, demonstrate the greater good, share our passion for our subjects, and invite morphing humans to make positive contributions to our world. What better job?”

I couldn’t agree more.
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