Thursday, October 23, 2014

EMS= Success

For an educator, this time of year is about flexibility, added excitement and treats. At Eaton Middle we are working hard to be as transparent as possible towards the direction our building is heading. Make no mistake about it we are looking to offer the BEST education possible to each and every student that enters our building.

Defining what it means to have a “successful” middle school is quite the challenge, with stakeholders often disagreeing on the approach to take. Some primarily focus on what’s easily quantifiable, such as state tests, attendance data, grade point averages, and discipline data. While these data points are important, they don’t always tell the whole story or clearly define the success of a school.

 These seven areas provide a framework for EMS to focus on the development of the whole child, which is a concept we cannot overlook in today’s high stress, high demand cultures. 

AttendanceStudents have to not only be in school, but they have to be on time every period, every day, and be present mentally. Presence matters and is an easily identifiable characteristic of successful schools. Successful schools create an environment where students want to be there and be engaged every day. For example, create multiple ways for a number of students to have their “names in lights”: either read over the announcements, posted in the local newspaper, their pictures on display on digital monitors throughout the building or tweeted out by school officials for demonstrating positive behavior. Find inexpensive and creative ways to establish levels and layers of recognition of progress and achievement.

Academics- Schools that make content relevant offerings not only meet the needs of students, but stretch them to experiment with unfamiliar content, encourage them to learn by doing, and solve local, state, national, and global problems in creative ways. This provides opportunities for teachers to connect with other educators beyond the school walls and model the collaborative learning process.One of the most important things a principal can do is to support the development of new lessons that meet the needs of today’s learners. Support teachers who create classes that tap into students’ passions.

Attitude- It’s important that a school create a culture that celebrates a positive attitude of students, staff, and parents. One’s attitude is reflected in one’s behavior. One’s attitude, be it negative or positive is contagious. So, creating a culture that eradicates negativity leads to a much more pleasant environment and place where there’s a sense of belonging. 

Acts of Service- Working in the community is a norm in successful schools and it doesn't always have to be large one-time events. Classes or entire grade levels can partner with a number of local organizations, such as the Jacob's Ladder program, an animal shelter, the Red Cross, nursery homes, or assist neighbors with home projects. The possibilities are endless as long as there is a plan and desire to help others. This not only creates a sense of belonging for students who have the heart to serve others, but also establishes solid school-community partnerships. 

The Arts- A robust performing and visual arts programs gives students the opportunity to stretch themselves, fulfill a passion, perform in front of authentic audiences, and immerse themselves into creative outlets. The Arts provide a showcase of the talent that exists within a school and brings the community to the school to see students in action. For example, during the the Veteran's Day program our choir and band students performed a number of tunes individually and then collectively.

Athletics- A solid athletic program provides an outlet for many students, creates opportunities for students to connect with each other around a common interest, and the focus they may need to perform academically. In addition, athletics foster positive relationships and increase school pride as the school community rallies around the teams that are in-season, providing weekly opportunities to celebrate students and the school.

Activities- Successful schools have a number of clubs and extra-curricular activities, such as a Student Council, Chess Club, Anti- bullying group, Quiz team and more. It’s important to honor student voice by allowing them to decide which clubs they want to have at school. The only stipulation is that a school employee has to agree to be the club adviser. Use school announcements, and other media outlets to share meeting times and dates as well as highlights from club meetings.

Focusing on the 7 A’s will lead to an overall successful school by giving every student the opportunity to thrive. Eaton Middle School where YOU matter!

Cards like these available at EMS office.