With perspectives, bodies, and minds all changing at once, middle school can be one of the most turbulent, confusing times in a student’s life. At Brightworks, we seek to establish a middle school culture that honors these changing adolescents as whole people with vibrant ideas, real emotion, and engaged minds, meeting each child where they are and encouraging them to continue to be brave by showing their true, wild, wacky, vulnerable selves to the world.
As in the rest of the school, our groups are small and intimate, allowing each student to experience and focus in on their own academic and social-emotional growth. Our middle schoolers have shown us that no work can get done if they are feeling that things are off, so we see the emotional and social growth of a middle schooler as a foundation of our days here. We understand that with middle school comes conflict from many avenues, but rather than avoiding conflict or chalking it up to a stage that a student has to get through, we guide students toward deliberate self-management and an understanding of their own roles in social dynamics that arise. At Brightworks, we strive to influence behavior so that students use their power positively , both for themselves and their peers. We seek to show our middle schoolers that every person comes from a complicated context, and emphasize embracing the differences in each learner, culture, perspective, and circumstance.
In middle school, students build on the foundations of lower school skills, including guided project work, to venture into more independent work, with collaborator guidance and a focus on group participation. Students are challenged to think harder and bigger about their academic work, and they stretch their minds with more complex ideas and projects that help them maintain the curiosity that they had as younger students.
Middle schoolers pursue more complex thinking in language arts, mathematics, engineering, science, and art, using multiple modes to explore divergent perspectives and opinions other than their own. As they grow through these three years of middle school, they increase their academic rigor and project management skills in order to be ready for high school, as well as increasing their leadership skills as role models for the younger students at the school as stewards of this unique community of a mixed-age school.