High expectations being set at One91 middle schools
The first few weeks of the school year are some of the most important, as first impressions are made, routines are established and friendships are struck.
Maybe most importantly, expectations are set. We have high expectations for all of our students, both when it comes to their academic work and when it comes to their behavior as part of a learning community.
During the first week of this school year, I was fortunate to spend a lot of time in our schools. When I visited our middle schools, I was heartened – but not surprised – to see important work being done to set those high expectations and build that positive culture that makes learning possible.
That doesn’t mean an administrator or teacher reading the rules to a gymnasium full of students. It goes way beyond that.
At Metcalf Middle School, for instance, students have been part of the process for restarting and reestablishing that school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) system. They met with Principal Shannon McParland and Associate Principal Akram Osman during the summer to come up with ideas and plan together, and now they will help encourage and be examples for their peers.
Metcalf Dean of Students Leah Bourg was taking students through the school, explaining and modeling expected behavior in the hallways.
In some cases, the entire structure of the day was changed to make sure everyone started off on the right foot. At Nicollet Middle School, students spent the whole day with their advisory classes where they participated in team building exercises, learned the ins and outs of how the school works, and established those high expectations around behavior. Just three years ago, before the updates of Vision One91, there wasn’t an advisory period where this kind of work could happen at these schools.
It was exciting to see those relationships being built and expectations being set right from the first day of school. Stronger relationships are a big reason we moved away from having junior highs toward the middle school model as part of Vision One91. It’s heartening to see that model continuing to grow, with staff and students showing amazing progress already this year.
Knowing they are valued and knowing what’s expected of them, our middle school students are ready to succeed in 2018-19.
This column originally appeared in the Savage Pacer on Sept. 26, 2018.