A Message from Dani Steele, Interim Head of Middle School | November 9
Dani Steele, Interim Head of Middle School
Dear Families, 
With progress reports and conferences approaching, Middle School students are very busy reflecting on their growth and setting academic and personal goals this week and next. What does that goal-setting process look like? And how might you as parents help your children brainstorm and progress toward their goals?
During Advisory and Gibush, each Middle School student gets to preview their progress reports' Habits of Learning, which are student attitudes and practices that transcend a subject. Our Middle School Habits of Learning are:
  • Accuracy & Perseverance: I can be precise and clear in my work; I keep trying even when things are challenging; and I handle setbacks, mistakes, and struggles in a way that builds myself up.
  • Commitment to Personal Growth: I work on being my best self; I can use resources (including technology) to improve; I am willing to self-reflect and use feedback from others to learn and grow.
  • Kavod: I can speak and act respectfully toward myself, teachers, classmates, materials and spaces.
  • Partnerships & Collaboration: I can listen to others with understanding and empathy, seeing other people’s points of view; I care about the well-being of the entire group, so I work cooperatively with others; I can speak up thoughtfully and contribute my hard work to the team.
  • Passion for Learning: I am curious! I take risks! I ask questions to dig deeper, and I care about working hard to achieve understanding.
  • Readiness to Learn: I can arrive to class prepared and on time, with a learning mindset.
  • Self-Advocacy: I can take initiative; I can problem-solve; I start by trying to tackle things independently; Then, I can reach out to my teachers, advisor, and peers if/when I need help.
  • Self-regulation: I can be patient and self-disciplined (in charge of myself), and I can think before I act.
With their advisor, students look at the bigger picture of their grades and discuss: How do you prepare your materials and your mindset for class? How do you respond to tasks that are easy vs. difficult things? How do you problem-solve when you don’t know an answer? What do you hear teachers or classmates say to you often? Tell me about your focus and self-regulation in class. What are ways that you are helpful, or not-so-helpful to classmates? What are the obstacles in your way and how can you overcome them?
Goal setting can be a vulnerable experience for self-conscious students in these adolescent years, but we coach our students to set a SMART goal over a superficial one. A SMART goal is an acronym for goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This way, advisors can help students develop a clear picture of expectations and where to focus their time and attention in achieving these goals. A SMART goal is a much easier goal to turn into a plan!
These goals are then shared in your child's progress report and I encourage you to continue the conversations at home by asking questions that mirror our advisory work, such as:
  • Think about a success you had last year in school; what do you think helped lead to that success?
  • How do you think this class will stretch your thinking this year?
  • What strategies might help you stay focused and on task during class?
  • What is a skill or type of support that you might need in order to be successful in this class?
Putting in the effort to achieve one's goal and seeing results (even small ones!) can boost students’ self-esteem and motivate them to dream big. Whether your child chooses to set a goal about participating more in class discussions, spending more time checking over work before turning it in, branching out in friendships, or collaborating more productively, the act of setting SMART goals keeps students actively involved in their own learning and growth. We look forward to continuing these conversations with you at Conferences and to supporting our students' growth this year!

Dani Steele
Interim Head of Middle School

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