Highlights of Exemplary Practices Aligned with the 18 Characteristics of Successful Middle Schools
Characteristic #17: Professional learning for all staff is relevant, long term, and job embedded.
Comprehensive professional development framework
Belmont Ridge has planned a comprehensive professional development framework that provides multiple avenues for staff to increase learning and sharpen practices. It is our core belief that sustained professional learning should follow the continuous improvement model, with opportunities for goal setting, instruction and data collection, reflection, and most importantly, a commitment to serving the needs of the middle school student. Every professional development offering, also in alignment with the division’s goals, speaks to AMLE’s essential attributes.
In the fall, the school administrative and instructional facilitator teams conduct goal-setting meetings. Every teacher-created professional goals in the areas of academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, and social equity. In turn, every professional learning session ends with time for staff to reflect on their goal work for each area and it is our hope that our training offerings provide relevant and timely learning experiences that speak back to their individual goals and that ultimately improve student learning outcomes.
Characteristic #5: Comprehensive counseling and support services meet the needs of young adolescents
Unified Mental Health Team
We are outfitted with a Unified Mental Health Team consisting of counselors, a social worker, a school psychologist, and a substance use prevention specialist. Physically located within each of the grade-level house areas, they are accessible to students just by dropping by their office or by student, staff, or parent referral. The team runs a variety of counseling groups, Sources of Strength, and additional individualized student supports.
Characteristic #9: Curriculum is challenging, exploratory, integrative, and diverse
Characteristic #11: Instruction fosters learning that is active purposeful, and democratic.
Creating authentic learning experiences
We continue to hone our practices of Project-Based Learning, Performance Assessments, and Personalized Learning, providing our students with deeper, more authentic learning experiences. This year, our focus is on designing lessons that intentionally connect content with real-life experiences as they relate to students, local and global world-related issues, and empower students to make meaningful connections between the content and their lives. We plan and reflect on lessons and honor the sharing and refining of work.
Characteristic #13: A shared vision developed by all stakeholders guides every decision
Book study and schoolwide statement
We have also initiated a book study on AMLE’s The Successful Middle School, running it through our interdisciplinary teams. Currently, we are developing a schoolwide statement on what ‘developmental responsiveness’ means to me. This statement will be the guiding light to the work that we do with our student community.
Characteristic #2: The school environment is welcoming, inclusive, and affirming for all
Social equity playlist
We continue to work on building consciousness around social equity in our daily practice. To support our growth, the learning framework provides our staff with our school equity playlist. Considering that staff members may be at different places in their journey in this area, our playlist offers options such as book studies that will help build and sustain equitable practices.