Middle School Teaming

Middle School Teaming

Middle school can be challenging. Think back to your time at the middle level. We all remember being thrown into a new building, with new teachers, and 400 other students we’ve never met before. For the first time in our lives we have some choice in our schedule, we’re traveling the halls, and making decisions on friendships based on a deeper understanding of others, not just whether we are in the same class and both wearing blue shirts. Combine this with developing physically and psychologically at a breakneck pace. During these formative years, having consistent, supportive, understanding relationships with teachers and adults appears to have a positive effect on learning and socio-emotional development.

According to John Hopkins University, the hallmark of an effective middle level school rests in its capacity to create dynamic learning teams within the school. At Excelsior Springs Middle School, we are using teams to provide a more personalized learning experience for students by organizing our building into smaller learning communities where close relationships between students and adults can be established and where more individualized attention can be given to all learners. Teams ensure that our students are well known by adults in the school, that their learning needs are understood and addressed, and that they receive the social, emotional and academic support from teachers and staff that they need to succeed academically.

At ESMS, each student is placed within a team of 100 students and four teachers to increase community and connectedness between our students, staff, parents and school. Teaming provides each student a team of four teachers that become an expert of that student and allows teachers to establish stronger teacher-student relationships based on an improved understanding of the students and their specific learning needs. Teaming has created increased opportunities for collaboration amongst students on the same team, and opportunities to engage in interdisciplinary PBL units.  Teaming also provides an EXCEL hour allowing for targeted rotations of data-driven interventions in ELA/Math. Students and parents are also experiencing more consistency with goals and expectations, reducing anxiety in students and providing teachers the support of fellow team teachers in identifying and addressing the needs of students. Middle School can indeed be difficult and that may never change, but by utilizing a smaller community of learners and teachers we hope to provide students with the academic and socio-emotional support they need.

Mark Bullimore

Principal, ESMS