Dear Middle School Families,
When I speak with alumni who are currently in high school, they often reflect on how much they treasured their relationship and work with their advisor and their daily Gibush or advisory meetings. While teaching and learning across departments is essential to student growth, our advisory program is the foundation of each day.
You may ask, “what do our kids do in Gibush?” These 30 minutes each morning set the pulse for the entire academic day. Teachers take time each Wednesday to plan for the week’s Gibush in the same way they would for an academic class. While each grade level may differ a bit, the Gibush morning meeting or Advisory gathering is where we anchor our social-emotional work, grow executive functioning skills and build thoughtful relationships between advisor and advisees. Ideally, this work carries through the entire day and lays the foundation for how the cohort learns and works together.
Step into a fifth-grade morning Gibush and join a meeting with me. You may see that spread out around the room are alternating colored shapes to allow for gathering in a socially distanced circle. In a morning meeting, it’s important that every student is seen, heard and welcomed into the day. Typically, on a Google Jam Board or slide, teachers pose a greeting helping students to check in with each other. The greeting travels around the circle. Following the greeting, as executive functioning is the focus for the morning, students move into a guided binder and Chromebook check. With support from advisors, students make sure their binder system is organized. Some may also check to make sure their digital work is filed appropriately within their classroom drives.
In other grades, Gibush is just as vibrant and supportive. In our 6th grade, students work on learning how to self-advocate. The process begins with the individual student considering, "what do the masks we wear or shields we carry protect what we hold inside?" Advisors work carefully on social-emotional wellness by creating activities and conversations that help students form a positive vision of themselves through recognizing their strengths.
Our seventh and eighth grades work to support students as their academic and social needs grow and become more challenging. Like fifth and sixth grade the week’s mornings incorporate a mix of executive functioning and social-emotional learning. Advisors are well tuned in to the calendar knowing when Bar and Bat Mitzvahs occur, recognizing the emotional needs of students before high school testing, keeping students on pace with classroom assignments and providing space to process the events of the world.
Our students carry a physical backpack each day, but also an invisible pack that often weighs more heavily. Outside of the typical middle school excitement, anxiety and feelings, our students, now more than ever, wrestle with the events of our world. This year, our team is carving out time for our students to process, question and grow as members of our Bernard Zell school community and beyond. In partnership with parents, we seek to lay a foundation for daily academic learning as well as life learning that shapes both mind, spirit and character.
Wishing you a wonderful week,
Head of Middle School