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The middle grades are a complex, challenging, and confusing time for adolescents and for adults to support and develop! Even so, more and more research points to the importance of this stage of childhood, when young people are grappling to figure out who they are. Helping young people through this process of identity formation is crucial as kids transition physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially.
In this episode of the Whole Child Podcast, we examine how to foster middle grades students' healthy development; create environments that facilitate learning throughout this transitional time; and support those who are working with these students in schools, in the community, and at home. You'll hear from Al Arth, a professor of education at York College in Nebraska, and Caroline Bloxom, principal of Pocomoke Middle School in Maryland.
Throughout his career, Arth has been a strong advocate for middle school education. Among his many accomplishments, he was a founding member of whole child partner the National Association of Secondary School Principals' (NASSP) Middle Level Council, served on the board of directors of the National Middle School Association (also a whole child partner), and developed one of the first doctoral-level middle school programs in the country at the University of Nebraska. Arth is the facilitator of ASCD's Middle Grades Professional Interest Community; join the mailing list by e-mailing email@example.com.
As principal of a multiple-award–winning rural school, Bloxom has created a safe and welcoming learning environment for students by combining a rigorous curriculum with strong emotional support for its student body. Pocomoke Middle School was also featured on NBC's Today show in a segment highlighting the programs and services that are contributing to middle-level success.
Be sure to check out NASSP's resources for middle-level schools and its MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools program. The April 2011 issue of ASCD's Educational Leadership magazine focuses on "The Transition Years," looking at students moving from early childhood into elementary school, through the middle grades—perhaps the ultimate transition years—and then into 9th grade.
How do your school and community create learning opportunities that really engage and challenge students and move them to the next level in their academic experience?