Highlights of Exemplary Practices Aligned with the 18 Characteristics of Successful Middle Schools
Characteristic 3: Every student’s academic and personal development is guided by an adult advocate.
Upon entering team, committee, small group, and individual meetings you will immediately sense a student-focused feedback loop. Teachers advocate fiercely on behalf of students to ensure they have access to their visionary futures. This is evident as our school evaluates new curriculum, programming, instructional supports, or extracurricular activities. Student leadership teams also convene to have discourse surrounding school improvement options that have a direct impact on their learning. Our very own students advocate for their peers and own personal success. These conversations happen ad hoc as well as when reviewing data sets. Advisory time is dedicated to create avenues of student opportunity to contribute to school programming. Each student at SMS has an adult who works directly with them on their academic and personal development during Advisory. This intentional work builds to a culmination project known as the Individual Plan of Study Student Lead Conference, which is held each spring.
At Seaman Middle School we recognize the importance of relationships. The cultural foundation extends from the deliberate interactions during both structured and unstructured times within the day. Our teachers provide space within our classrooms to empower students to discover, affirm, and cultivate their own interests and identities. Our school environment is actively creating structures to increase the understanding and acceptance of all human beings. The middle school model allows students the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to engage in healthy social interactions. As a school community, we are purposeful and active in the peer relationships that are being formed. We support our students as they maneuver through new social situations during these formative years.
Characteristic #13: A shared vision developed by all stakeholders guides every decision.
Seaman Middle School staff’s thoughts, ideas, and decisions create a diverse decision-making model to ensure all voices are heard. A collective leadership model drives the school improvement process at Seaman Middle School. The perspectives considered throughout the cyclical process include student, staff, and family voice. When determining the effectiveness of the process all stakeholders engage in the self-correcting feedback loop.
Laughter, collegiality, and support are integral parts of every meeting at Seaman Middle School. These relationships leverage our decision-making and the trust that is built collectively. School-wide reflection is a vital part of our organization. As we adjust our policies and practices this reflection ensures students stay at the heart of our decision-making.
Specialized leadership teams embody deep respect and commitment to fair and equitable student-centered practices. Practices and policies for school operations, behavioral support, and academic success are decided by these teams. Over 50% of our certified staff serve on our leadership teams, chosen by colleagues to represent their voice. Our leadership teams are collaborative decision-making entities that value expertise from all members of our school community. Teacher leaders enact change through solution-focused discussions and decision-making processes. Mutual trust is the pillar of communication among leadership teams, their representatives, and administration.
Characteristic 9: Curriculum is exploratory, integrative, and diverse.
Our middle school curriculum creates a vehicle in which students gain knowledge, understanding, and competence of personal, social, moral, and ethical significance. Teaching content and standards is not about breadth but instead depth. In our school we recognize the importance of systematically teaching readiness, endurance, and leverage standards within our curriculum. As our school continues to develop a deeper understanding of how to create integrative experiences, our students will better acknowledge how to transfer learning to all facets of their lives.
Seaman Middle School views the child with a holistic lens as we are committed to understanding their unique strengths and perspectives. Teachers utilize instructional strategies that create opportunities for students to be accountable for their own learning. When walking into a classroom it is obvious students are engaged in experiential learning that is facilitated by student choice, voice, and collaboration.
Our teachers engage in reflective processes to evaluate data, adjust teaching practices, and realign content to meet the needs of all students. Formative assessments allow us to progress monitor student growth and promote self-reflection of learning. Summative assessments are delivered in a multitude of ways to allow students to demonstrate mastery of their learning. At Seaman Middle School we believe all children deserve the opportunity for a better life.