What Middle School is All About
Middle school, also known as junior high school, bridges the gap between elementary and high school. Students cultivate independence and social skills, as well as explore their interests and strengths.
To prepare for their transition to middle school, many students participate in orientation programs before the fall semester begins. Parents can help support their children during this period by staying involved and creating a positive home environment.
It’s a time of transition
In middle school, students are thrown into an environment that is significantly different from any educational experience they’ve had before. They must take the bus alone, use a locker, navigate the hallways, and manage their time between classes and other activities. Many students are also concerned about their relationship with their teachers and peers. In one longitudinal study, students viewed maintaining friendships with friends as a critical challenge during the transition to middle school (Akos, 2002).
The first thing to remember is that it’s normal for kids to feel nervous or anxious about this change. Help them calm their fears by letting them know that they’ll be fine with time. Also, talk with them about the school’s expectations for behavior and how to handle challenging situations. This will set a good foundation for their academic and social success in middle school. It is important to note that these expectations are different for each student.
It’s a time of growth
CMS students are diverse both as individuals and as part of an incredible community. They come from different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, and each of them is valued. The district recognizes that all can succeed and it is committed to making it happen for every student!
Moss says it takes more than cool electives and magnet themes to make a school like Coulwood thrive. “You have to know the state standards like the back of your hand, and still be able to adapt your lesson,” she said. That kind of instruction is one reason why the school earned an impressive growth rating in 2022.
It also helped Black, Hispanic and low-income students pass sixth grade math, compared with lower scores across the city and state. And it was one of the few schools that saw its ELL students’ pass rate rise. Those results are encouraging as the district works to close gaps caused by last year’s pandemic setback and long-standing racial disparities.
It’s a time of independence
The CMS middle school interdisciplinary team structure in grades 4-7 provides opportunities for students to become more independent while still being provided with a safe and supportive environment. Students are introduced to a variety of exploratory courses in the fine arts, physical education, health, world languages and cultures, and computers and coding as well as traditional academic courses such as science, math, social studies, and English language arts.
Students are also encouraged to participate in co-curricular activities, such as student council, yearbook, sports and musicals, and a host of service-learning opportunities such as JROTC and Dream Team. In addition to a guaranteed seat at their neighborhood school, current fifth-graders have the opportunity to apply for a seat at any of the CMS magnet schools, which offer theme-based learning experiences.
While the Title IX civil trial in federal court has been garnering more attention than the latest CMS plan for bonds, buildings, boundaries and magnets, those who stay engaged have the best chance of shaping results. Sign up to receive Ann Doss Helms’ weekly newsletter about schools and education.
It’s a time of responsibility
Throughout middle school, students take responsibility for their behavior and learning. They are expected to follow guidelines and procedures that ensure a safe and productive environment. These include homework expectations, organizational strategies and test dates. Teachers encourage students to do well in class by providing praise and recognition for exceptional academic achievement and improved classroom behavior. They also hold team assemblies, recognize academic achievements and honor students who have perfect attendance.
In the classroom, students are taught at a range of educational levels, based on their test scores and performance in core subjects such as literacy, social studies, science and mathematics. In addition to core classes, schools offer a wide variety of elective courses in areas such as fine arts, career and technical education and world languages.
CMS offers parents and students a choice of neighborhood schools, through the guaranteed neighborhood school program or by participating in the School Choice lottery for magnet, theme-based learning experiences.