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A Barber Book Study… This We Believe : Barber Believes 2008/2009 The Importance of Middle Level Education Introduction Time of rapid and profound personal changes-hormonal shifts, changes in thinking patterns, concerns about image and peer acceptance Moral development emerges

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the importance of middle level education
The Importance of Middle Level Education


  • Time of rapid and profound personal changes-hormonal shifts, changes in thinking patterns, concerns about image and peer acceptance
  • Moral development emerges
  • Performance in school is dependent on changing needs being met
  • Hunger for positive informal adult relationships
  • Awareness of the economic impact of marketing trends
how does barber compare
How does Barber compare?
  • Physical transformation between 6th and 8th grades
  • Status determined by the type of cell phone carried
  • Socialization more important than learning
  • Multiple interactions with the nurse, counselors, advisement teachers, and extra curricular activities
belief 1
Belief 1

Educators value working with this age group and are prepared to do so.

  • The uniqueness of this age group is understood.
  • Middle level educators have a zest for living.
  • The dynamics of the ever-changing youth culture is understood.
  • The value of interdisciplinary studies is recognized.
  • Middle level educators serve as role models for the students.
  • Specific preparation is needed before teaching middle level students.
  • A depth of knowledge in a specific content is needed.
  • Schools and school districts provide ongoing professional development.
how does barber prepare its teachers to teach this age group
How does Barber prepare its teachers to teach this age group?
  • Many staff development opportunities are provided throughout the year for all teachers.
  • Barber teachers have a depth of knowledge in a specific content: secondary certified, highly qualified SPED, and middle grades certification with specific concentrations.
  • Teachers at Barber serve as role models everyday!
  • The uniqueness of this age group is understood through our various clubs, organizations, year long connections, and spirit days.
  • We enjoy being with young adolescents, or we would not be here.
belief 2
Belief 2

Courageous, collaborative leadership

  • Principal has the central leadership role. She understands adolescents and the theory and best practices in middle level education.
  • Principal’s role includes:
    • Educate students, parents, teachers, and community about the middle school philosophy for continuous school improvement.
    • Change practices that don’t work.
    • Make the hard decisions that are needed in order to meet the needs of every student.
  • The Principal has the key role in establishing professional development that is meaningful and relevant for continuous school improvement.
how does barber provide courageous and collaborative leadership
How does Barber provide courageous and collaborative leadership?
  • The principal has a strong belief that improvement does not depend on a single person; therefore, the principal must develop strong teacher leaders and a true collaborative school culture.
  • Teacher leaders facilitate discussions among grade levels, teams, and departments. They lead professional learning among their colleagues. In house leadership and expertise is valued and practiced.
  • As a commitment to collaborative school culture, the principal establishes expectations and provides a framework for collaboration focusing on student learning results, analysis of student work, and instructional best practices to promote student learning.
belief 3
Belief 3

A shared vision that guides decisions

  • Student success starts with a mission statement that is shared by all, from students to community members.
  • Middle educators have to live the philosophies of the vision. Everyone buys in to the mission of the school.
  • The mission statement must include relevant state and federal guidelines as well as being data driven. The most important key in middle level mission statements is in the knowledge we have about growth and development in students ages 10-15.
  • Once the vision and mission statement are operational, middle level educators must then develop a challenging academic program, methods to guide decision making and steps to make needed changes.
  • Mission statement must be a living document that changes as research and new practices emerge.
how does barber provide a shared vision that guides decisions
How does Barber provide a shared vision that guides decisions?
  • Weekly grade level meetings
  • Content area meetings
  • School Improvement Plan meetings
  • Community partnership meetings
  • Response to Intervention meetings
  • School Council meetings
  • PTSA meetings
belief 4
Belief 4

An inviting, supportive, & safe environment

  • A happy school promotes higher levels of learning and promotes student’s sense of self.
  • Relationships are important.
  • Visitors see a polite, well structured environment.
  • Mutual respect between teachers, staff, and students is important.
  • Differences are respected and celebrated.
  • Intellectual risks are encouraged.
  • Every student has at least one adult advocate.
  • Student’s progress is displayed and celebrated.
  • All accomplishments within a school should and does require constant nurturing.
how does barber provide an inviting supportive and safe environment
How does Barber provide an inviting, supportive, and safe environment?
  • Honor Roll lists are displayed
  • Honor Roll breakfasts
  • Advisement each week (Advocate for every child)
  • 7th Grade Parent Night
  • 6th Grade Rocks Night
  • Teachers display student work inside & outside of classrooms
  • Academic Bowl
  • Girl’s Leadership
  • Girl Talk
  • Teacher Collaboration
  • Reflections Writing
  • Dance and Drama Plays
  • Band and Chorus Concerts
  • Fish Club
  • Red Ribbon Week
  • The places for a student to plug into Barber are numerous.
belief 5
Belief 5

High expectations for everyone in the learning community

  • Successful middle schools are grounded in the understanding that young adolescents are capable of far more than adults often assume.
  • Teachers should hold high expectations for themselves and their students, and vice versa.
  • Teachers convey high expectations through personal examples, gestures, casual remarks, and attitudes.
  • Teachers should empower students to learn, to become intellectually engaged, and to behave as responsible citizens.
  • This teaches self-discipline, initiative, and responsibility.
how does barber maintain high expectations for every member in the learning community
How does Barber maintain high expectations for every member in the learning community?
  • Faculty and Staff at Barber conduct themselves in a professional manner, establishing a positive example for their students.
  • Teachers hold high expectations for academics and behavior.
  • Overall, students and faculty do a great job of meeting these expectations. This school culture provides an effective environment for learning and working.
belief 6
Belief 6

Students & teachers are

engaged in active learning

  • The most successful learning strategies involve each student personally.
  • Students should be the center of the learning process.
  • Students are viewed as the actors not just the audience.
  • Students should become more active in the teaching-learning process at this age.
  • “Hands-joined” activities (students and teachers develop together) should be used.
  • Conditions of genuine learning are present when students assume the role of the teacher and teachers demonstrate that they are still learners.
how are barber students and teachers engaged in active learning
How are Barber students and teachers engaged in active learning?
  • Barber Middle School has offered all teachers the opportunity to be trained on effective student engagement in the classroom.
  • Teachers at Barber provide engaging learning opportunities for all students.
  • Teachers implement performance based activities into learning, thus facilitating student engagement.
  • Teachers can continue to seek opportunities to extend beyond student compliance, and engage students in their learning.
belief 7
Belief 7

An adult advocate for every student

  • Academic success and personal growth increase when students’ needs are met.
  • Students need opportunities to discuss their many concerns with trusted adult advocates.
  • Adult advocates are LISTENERS, GUIDES, ROLE MODELS, and LIAISONS for the students.
  • This concept of advocacy should be embedded within the school’s culture and not limited to a single event or a regularly scheduled time…it is an attitude of caring by adults towards students.
  • Advocates are in a position to recognize changes that should be addressed by the appropriate staff members (counselors, administrators, etc.)
how does barber provide an adult advocate for every student
How does Barber provide an adult advocate for every student?

Each adult at Barber fulfills the role of advocate on a daily basis. However, specific student needs are met when:

  • Guidance counselors act as LISTENERS for students who are uncomfortable sharing personal situations with teachers.
  • Academic and Connections Teachers act as GUIDES and ROLE MODELS for students when they set standards in their classes and provide a means for those standards to be met.
  • Homeroom Teachers act as LIAISONS between home and school when they relay important information to parents and when they conduct annual conferences in January.
  • Advisement Teachers act as LISTENER, GUIDE, ROLE MODEL, and LIAISON when they meet weekly to facilitate discussion on topics relevant to the lives of the adolescents here at Barber.
belief 8
Belief 8

School-initiated family & community partnerships

  • Continuing parental involvement is as important as ever, so schools must take initiative to develop needed home-school bonds.
  • Research shows involvement of both family and other adults in the community improved student behavior and greater overall support for schools.
  • Newsletters, report cards, parent/teacher conferences, emails, Web sites, student led conferences, and homework hotlines are valuable communication tools to inform and involve parents/community members.
  • Middle schools should involve appropriate partnerships with businesses, social service agencies, and other organizations whose purposes are consistent with the school’s mission.
  • Families should spend time engaged in their children’s learning to demonstrate a belief in the importance of school success.
how does barber support school initiated family and community partnerships
How does Barber support school-initiated family and community partnerships?
  • Barber supports teacher, parent, and student activities, such as 6th grade events, PTSA, band/orchestra/chorus concerts, dance/drama performances, and open house.
  • PTA has created programs for families to attend. For example, Barber hosts the “MORE” breakfast where fathers can be more involved in their student’s success in school.
  • Teachers send home communication tools appropriately. Teachers also update daily communication resources, such as homework hotline and teacher blogs.
  • Students get involved with partnering organizations, such as “Winning Spirits.”
  • Parents are encouraged get involved by participating in school wide activities as well as staying updated with the home communication tools.
belief 9
Belief 9

Curriculum that is relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory

  • Both students and teachers must have the perspective that the curriculum is relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory.
  • Effective curriculum needs to have learning activities that appeal to young adolescents and create opportunities for them to pose and answer questions that are relevant to themselves, the content, and the world.
  • Challenging curriculum requires significant collaboration among all teachers, counselors, school social workers, parents and students. Both content and methods must be diversified and individualized by offering choices among learning opportunities and provide challenges for all students to reach and grow, whatever their current abilities.
belief 9 continued
Belief 9 continued…
  • Curriculum integrates critical thinking, decision making, and creativity for students to produce or construct knowledge rather than simply being consumers of information.
  • Young adolescents, by nature, are adventuresome, curious explorers. Exploratory curriculum is an attitude and approach, not a classification of content. Students deserve opportunities to engage in activities that will broaden their views of the world and themselves as well as enriches their life or contributes to their development as a well-rounded individual and participant in their community.
how does barber support a curriculum that is relevant challenging integrative and exploratory
How does Barber support a curriculum that is relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory?

Relevant - Barber collaborative teams work together to provide students learning opportunities that are relevant to the student, content, and current events in the world and our community. Teams also create new opportunities and interests for new knowledge and new levels of learning. Teams could improve on focusing on generating and expanding on student generated questions to make curriculum more relevant.

Challenging - Barber collaborative teams work together to provide challenging learning opportunities that are aligned with GPS standards, emphasizing higher level thinking and differentiate to meet individual student needs. Teams could improve on knowledge lessons that focus on copying or memorizing rather than allowing the student to be the thinker and explorer.

how does barber support a curriculum that is relevant challenging integrative and exploratory23
How does Barber support a curriculum that is relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory?
  • Integrative - Barber collaborative teams work together to provide students learning opportunities that provide experiences that show that content can be applied in other subject areas. Some collaborative subject area teams especially reading integrate other subjects in planned units and of course reading is integrated in each subject. Teams can improve by working more closely to integrate even more.
  • Exploratory - Barber collaborative teams can improve by helping students explore through individual study or enrichment.
belief 10
Belief 10

Multiple learning and teaching approaches

that respond to their diversity

  • Young adolescents learn best through engagement and interaction that involves dialogue with teachers and with one another.
  • Individual differences are accommodated through varied approaches such as group projects, demonstrations, and independent study.
  • Teachers collaborate to design differentiated learning activities that will challenge each student learner.
  • Teachers use instructional materials and resources that provide multiple viewpoints and encourage students to explore new ideas.
  • Teachers integrate technology where applicable to help develop independence and higher-order thinking skills.
  • Teachers provide students the opportunity to present what they have learned.
how does barber support multiple learning and teaching approaches that respond to student diversity
How does Barber support multiple learning and teaching approaches that respond to student diversity?

Here at Barber we…

  • S - Collaboratively design engaging lesson plans that encourage students to ask questions and share viewpoints in a dialogue with teachers and with one another
    • We meet standards here at Barber, the more time we have to do this the better the results
  • S - Collaboratively design engaging lesson plans that accommodate individual differences through varied approaches such as group projects, presentations, and independent study
    • We meet to develop lesson plans that provide all students the opportunity to further the skills they have mastered and develop new skills
  • NI - Collaborate to design differentiated learning activities that will challenge each student learner where he or she is
    • While we are meeting standards on our collaborative design we believe we could do better at differentiating learning activities to meet the needs of each student learner
belief 11
Belief 11

Assessment and evaluation programs

that promote quality learning

  • Continuous, authentic, and appropriate assessment and evaluation provides evidence about student’s progress.
  • Students should set personal goals and reflect on them.
  • Assessment is estimating a student’s progress toward an objective.
  • Evaluation is using data and standards to judge quality or level of achievement.
  • Evaluation criteria should be specified in advance with a rubric.
  • Various assessment strategies are needed to address all aspects of a student’s development; I.e. critical thinking, independence, responsibility.
  • Assessment and evaluation should address individual progress and intrinsic motivation. Effort should be recognized.
  • Students, families, and teachers all have active roles in evaluating progress.
how does barber provide assessment and evaluation programs that promote quality learning
How does Barber provide assessment and evaluation programs that promote quality learning?
  • Using the data wall and enrichment classes help teachers make classes challenging for all students.
  • Barber’s Advisement Program helps students set personal goals.
  • The training on formative assessment has emphasized the need for continuous and ongoing assessment.
  • Most teachers use rubrics to grade projects; however, the criteria is often difficult to categorize.
  • Barber teachers believe that using various assessment strategies at higher level thinking activities is very difficult. That does not mean it should not be done; it’s just difficult to design an assessment and/or rubric that reflects the student’s thinking.
  • It is difficult to put enough emphasis on individual progress. Even with differentiating, some students need more time on assignments or a different level of thinking. As far as intrinsic motivation, by definition the teachers should not have to provide this. ZAP is an example of encouraging intrinsic motivation. We do provide plenty of extrinsic motivation (jolly ranchers).
  • Although parents don’t grade papers, they do take an active role in evaluating how well students are doing by reading the blogs and looking at I-Parent.
belief 12
Belief 12

Organizational structures that support meaningful relationships and learning

  • Organize interdisciplinary teams.
  • Teachers and students know and support each other.
  • Contact with students and parents is easier in a team setting.
  • Daily common planning is essential.
  • Looping helps achieve “family”.
  • Limiting tracking encourages enrichment, cooperative learning, and independent study.
How does Barber provide organizational structures that support meaningful relationships and learning?
  • Barber tries to keep teachers on the same teams each year.
  • Our teams truly become a family where we teachers support and aide each other.
  • Team members constantly discuss what is best for our students, and we discuss parents we have contacted.
  • We share what has helped with our students and how parents reacted.
  • We rock with our common planning!
  • We don’t loop, but it would be interesting to see how the students’ performance is affected.
belief 13
Belief 13

School-wide efforts and policies that

foster health, wellness, and safety

  • Promote abundant opportunities for students to develop and maintain healthy minds and bodies and to understand their personal growth.
  • Address risks associated with drugs, alcohol, tobacco, eating habits, and sexual activities.
  • Concentrate on areas of students’ lives that enhance or interfere with learning.
  • Encourage adults to model healthy habits.
  • Offer daily physical education activities that improve students’ cardiovascular fitness, coordination, agility, and strength.
  • Emphasize and provide lifelong physical activities (dance, leisure sports, fitness programs, and intramural programs recognized by national standards).
  • Maintain an environment in which peaceful and safe interactions are expected and supported as well as communicated to entire school community.
  • “In such schools students have an increased sense of well-being and a greater likelihood of succeeding academically.”
how does barber support school wide efforts and policies that foster health wellness and safety
Health class


Red Ribbon Week

Relay for Life


Advisement (safe place to talk)

PE class

How does Barber support school-wide efforts and policies that foster health, wellness, and safety?
belief 14
Belief 14

Multifaceted Guidance & Support Services

  • Counselors, special needs teachers, school psychologists, social workers, nurses, and community liaisons assist with learning difficulties, social adjustments, family issues and health problems
  • School Counselors support teachers in advisory programs, conduct classroom guidance activities, and offer individual and group guidance sessions as needed.
  • Middle SchoolCounselors facilitate transition programs and activities for students entering and exiting middle school.
  • Student Advocacy Programs provide assistance to ALL students.
    • Counselors, Administrators, and Teachers are all involved
    • Meet with small groups of students during the school day
    • Help students develop respect for self and others
    • Fosters compassion, values, cooperation, decision making, and goal setting
how does barber provide multi faceted guidance and support services
How does Barber provide multi-faceted guidance and support services?

Two full-time school counselors currently operate and function as outlined in This We Believe through the following responsibilities:

  • RTI facilitation
  • Retention
  • Referrals are made to other school and community resources as necessary
  • Works closely with Graduation Coach to identify and support “at-risk” learners
  • Classroom Guidance lessons are regularly scheduled to provide all students with lessons on life and academic related skills
  • Individual and Group guidance sessions are on-going
  • Advisement (Facilitation as well as lesson planning/management)

Weekly Advisement Groups serve as the school’s “Student Advocacy Program”, in addition to other relationship and mentoring activities provided on a daily basis by teachers, staff, and community liaisons (ie. Mentoring, MORE tutoring, Girl Talk, “Swagger” Group, Girls Leadership, etc.).

this we believe
Laurie Carroll

Kay Clark

Jeannie Collins

Yevonne Dean

Charles Matthews

Lenora Nyeste

Renee Rains

Lynn Shearer

Jenna Smith

Ashley Stiefel

Amy Strader

Tiffany Tindall

Jill Tolbert

Vicki Washington

Lisa Williams

This We Believe

The following teachers participated in the This We Believe

Faculty Book Study and contributed to this presentation.

Book Study Facilitators: Mary Jo Dukes, Ashlynn Campbell, Sharon Wilkie