Every morning Middle School students meet in small groups of approximately 7–10 students. These meetings follow the structure and approach learned through professional training in Developmental Designs. Led by their advising teacher, the morning gatherings allow students to check in with themselves and others before the day gets fully under way.
These meetings follow a predictable routine, and Middle Schoolers, just like younger students, benefit from this predictability in order to establish a feeling of belonging and security from which to start their academic day.
The morning meetings include reading a daily message, engaging in a friendly social greeting, sharing, and then playing a game together and hearing announcements.
The approach is grounded in the following six principles:
- Social learning is as important to success as academic learning.
- We learn best by constructing our own understanding through exploration, discovery, application and reflection.
- The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interactions within a supportive community.
- There is a set of personal/social skills that students need to learn and practice in order to be successful socially and academically: cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy and self-control.
- Knowing the physical, emotional, social and intellectual needs of the students we teach is as important as knowing the content we teach.
- Trust among adults is a fundamental necessity for academic and social success in a learning community.
With these principles in mind, advisory groups form a foundation for all that follows in a school day. Advisors also serve as advocates for their advisees and make sure developmental needs are being met and addressed. Parents meet with their student and their student’s advisor for conferences.