Finding their Footing in Middle School

Danny Stock

"Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else." 
– Margaret Mead

Orientation will wrap up in 5th grade this week, but it’s not just the start of a new year—it’s also the year 5th grade joined the Middle School! In addition to heaps of additional advisory times to guide students into the new division, students and teachers have engaged in fun, get-to-know-you activities in paired advisory groups and full-grade gatherings. Each day of orientation has begun with a morning meeting, a framing quote like the one above, and a thought-provoking question. 

The 5th grade team revisited a discussion of the Middle School Golden Rules, shared by MS principal Debby Previna and assistant principal Mayra Diaz during last week’s assembly.

  • Act with Courage 
  • Learn from Setbacks (and Successes) 
  • Create and Innovate 
  • Care for Ourselves and Others

On Tuesday, they began with Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s wisdom: "Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you." 

As in other grades, teachers have been attending to students’ needs as joyful learners under circumstances that are generally not as joyful as we wish. To that end, they played human bingo and did scavenger hunts to learn little known facts about each other or don a funny outfit. They even ended the week with an all-Middle School Name That Tune challenge. In short, the teachers worked to ensure that the Middle School—whether virtual or in person—will be a place where 5th graders can love to learn.

At the same time, they have also leaned in courageously to GDS’s anti-racist and anti-bias work as an institution. Students learned more about their impact as a member of a diverse community where they will learn to change the world. They’ve set some important foundational work into motion, including recording their names in a shared Flipchart to ensure that everyone can learn to pronounce each other’s name correctly.  On Wednesday morning, they asked each other, “Can you think of something that everyone could agree on, despite the chaotic and diverse world we live in? What do you suggest?” These 10- and 11-year-olds may not have all the answers yet (despite what they may think) but asking the tough questions and listening to each other matters.

  • Middle School
  • Virtual Campus