Have we lost sight of our middle school students somewhere between the origins of the Middle School Movement, with its laser focus on small learning communities, mentor relationships and flexible curriculum, and our more recent era, focused on rigorous standards, academic accountability and financial cutbacks?
At a time when puberty wreaks havoc on their bodies, social relationships are tumultuous and lifelong personal identities are formed across the country we have uniformly increased class and school sizes, implemented new and more rigorous academic standards and instituted additional standardized tests. Where does that leave our middle schoolers? While countless studies have shown that students’ social and emotional needs must be addressed if they are to be successful academically, and for that matter, in life, we continue to put systems into place that make accomplishing this extremely challenging. At a time when we should be lifting up and nurturing our students’ unique character and the development of positive relationships and good decision-making, it appears we are instead deemphasizing the needs of the individual child in trade for testing and financial viability.
What if there is an alternative? What if we could adopt a new language in our schools, one that crosses all cultures and celebrates character strengths that occur naturally within each of us? What if the cultivation of these strengths naturally support the development of our students’ core identity and the development of their social and emotional competencies, such as social awareness, relationships skills and decision-making? Seem too good to be true? Studies already show powerful effects derived from the nurturing of character strengths in student populations. Imagine the power when this approach is applied to what many consider are the most challenging middle school years. Or imagine the power when this approach can be applied in challenging middle school situations and impact what many consider are the most challenging middle school years.
This week we are excited to share a research-based, effective and FUN way to improve learning, relating, and performing of staff and students in Middle School at the upcoming AMLE Conference. On Friday, October 16th Mayerson Academy will present “Advancing Learning, Relating, and Performing Through Character Strengths and Digital Games” at the Association for Middle Level Education 2015 National Conference in Columbus, Ohio.
Not attending AMLE this year? Follow me on Twitter to read tweets from the Conference. And follow our blog as we share our progress with Cincinnati Public Schools’ 10 – 12 year old students, as they explore and apply their unique character strengths to the development of social and emotional competencies.