As we move from the lazy days of summer into the crispness of autumn, the school day sets the tempo of our lives. Those of us who spend the day on The Colorado Springs School campus are surrounded by authentic questions, exploration and intellectual conversation. It is a thrilling and energizing place to be.
Each year at this time, as I walk through classrooms and talk with students, I’m reminded that curiosity and connection are the currency of our Middle School learners. More than anything, the adolescent mind is geared toward finding novelty and evaluating the world. As teachers, we serve as guides for these fine, young scholars, and it is a role we take seriously.
Though our faculty undergo years of training to create indelible experiences for our students – with specific learning standards and outcomes in mind – it doesn’t take a career in teaching to cultivate a love of questioning, curiosity and learning in your own home as well. That said, I encourage you to share your approach to learning and thoughts on worldly happenings with your Middle School child weekly, if not daily. For example:
- You might share something you read or a news report you heard and ask yourself, aloud and in ear shot of your Middle Schooler, "I wonder why the push to explore Mars is so important to some people? I think...”; or
- After reading a quote from a book or newspaper outloud, ask, “I wonder why the author used this word or phrase. It has an impact on me and makes me think...”
This form of “visible learning” sets the stage for conversations when our children are ready to bring their own learning back to us. Modeling visible learning for adolescents is a fantastic way to help them grow without the need for lectures or advice, both of which they are often predisposed to avoid. When mistakes happen, or things don’t turn out the way we plan, verbally processing with our family is a fantastic model of perseverance and resilience for students at this impressionable age.
When making plans and researching resources – whether financial, social or the itinerary for your next trip to a distant land – sharing this process with your child will help them see that learning, questioning, planning and positive responses can pose a challenge no matter what our age. Challenges can be hard, but walk the halls of the Trianon and you’ll hear teachers telling our students, “We can do hard things.”
There is gratification in sticking with it, but challenges mustn’t always be overcome alone. I regularly talk with students about the concepts of Ohana (“family”) and Ubuntu (“I am because we are”) in the context of not having to do hard things alone. We are the best advocates, resources and support systems for each other. When we look out for our family members, our classmates, and individuals within our community, we build one another up while, in turn, bolstering our own confidence. In the end, I believe that building confidence – academically, socially and personally – is the most important outcome of a Middle School education, and that confidence is built together – through small and large events – one day at a time.
Ron Hamilton, M.A.Ed. Leadership
Middle School Division Director