New course helps cue middle schoolers up for success in school, life

December 19, 2017
Middle school success students work together

Being successful in middle school is about more than remembering your locker combination or finding your way to your classes. The lessons learned in middle school can help determine future success for students in high school and beyond. That’s why teachers are working hard to help sixth and seventh grade students develop good habits as part of a unique new course called Middle School Success.

“The middle school years are a unique time in each child’s life as they transition to adolescence and adulthood,” said Eric VanScoy, Stillwater Middle School principal. “During this time it is critical we create an environment that is attentive to their social, emotional and academic needs and builds a solid foundation for them as they continue into high school and life.”

Students at both Oak-Land and Stillwater Middle Schools are taking the new course, which is broken into a quarter-long section in sixth grade and another quarter section in seventh grade. The course is designed to help students develop good habits, discover themselves, and learn how to be an active and engaged learner. Students learn essential study skills, like how and why to use planners to help them organize projects and assignments. They also learn about grading and how they’ll be evaluated in their classes, and how they can navigate the Skyward system to keep track of missing assignments and daily task. Academic skills, such as writing, inquiring, collaborating, organizing and reading are also interwoven throughout lessons.  

“Middle School Success teaches students essential skills to successfully navigate their world,” said Andy Fields, Oak-Land Middle School principal. “This course is a common thread connecting the middle school philosophy to our day-to-day programming.”

As much as Middle School Success is about academics, it is also about equipping students with many of the social and emotional skills they  need to navigate their way through the teenage years.  Students learn the basics of how their brain works as well as how eating, sleeping and moving can help their brain function to its full potential. Teachers engage students with “Brain Breaks” throughout the class period to show them how just a few minutes of simple stretching and physical movement can enhance their learning.

Students are encouraged to adopt a growth mindset and set specific goals for themselves through interactive activities. They learn that just because they may not be able to do something yet, by working hard they can train their brain to accomplish both short and long term goals.  Communication, collaboration, time management, self-advocacy skills, and problem solving are just a few of the other skills taught throughout the course.

“Our hope is that when students finish Middle School Success they have a skill set that can help them navigate through middle school, high school and life,” said Tera Peterson, a sixth grade teacher at Oak-Land. “They’re learning about themselves and gaining the confidence they need to succeed.”