Participating in community deepens individual growth
This school year, Middle School students have taken over the responsibilities of running the Monday Morning Meetings, our weekly community meeting for students from Children’s House through Eighth Grade. This is another way that our Middle Schoolers are actively engaged in leadership and service in our school community, in addition to running micro businesses, planning the Montessori Model UN trip to New York City, solving real-world problems in the local community, and taking an active leadership role in everything related to how the Middle School operates. The opportunity to practice leadership and community-building skills in real-world scenarios is not something you’ll find in many traditional middle schools.
Oak Meadow is especially well known for developing the authentic selfhood of each student. Since this is arguably the foundation for our school’s existence, you might wonder how this fits in with the school’s focus on student involvement in the community.
We do take the responsibility of each child’s individual growth very seriously. It involves so much, including supporting students in their self-understanding; discovering what each student wants to be as an individual; paying attention to each child’s learning style and learning pathway; encouraging students to be self-reflective and self-motivated as learners; building their capacity for good judgment and decision making; and creating learning experiences that allow for deep academic exploration as well as a better understanding of the world.
An important part of students reaching their individual potential and capabilities, however, is also connected to their relationships with others, and in developing their skills in collaboration and leadership.
Our Middle School teachers explain, “Due to our intentionally small community, Oak Meadow Middle School is conducive to building strong relationships that foster opportunities for leadership roles in ways that are not found in a typical middle school. 8th graders are routinely asked to take on mentoring roles with 7th grade students early in the year to help them transition into middle school. Whether helping with the acquisition of skills, or understanding directions of projects, 8th graders get to shine and show the 7th graders they will become middle school experts as well.
“In their science and STEM classes as well as the partnership with NuVu Studio in Cambridge, students practice collaboration while solving real-world problems. True collaboration is a practice in active listening, knowing when to be a leader, or when to follow. When solving their given challenge students ultimately need to agree on a solution that includes some piece of everyone’s idea. But, the collaboration does not stop there. Leadership and collaboration is a give and take relationship. Once a group agrees on a project they will end up creating several iterations of their design. Each time going back to the drawing board and collaborating all over again. It takes practice and time to develop these skills, which will undoubtedly be used no matter where their educational journey takes them.
“Additionally, MMUN allows students to apply leadership skills in real-life, complex situations at an international level together with other students from across the nation. Adapting skills learned in their classes, our students travel to New York to demonstrate their collaboration and critical thinking skills in a real world setting, with hundreds of other students from around the country.
“Due to the use of student businesses to broaden our curriculum in the middle school, students have an opportunity to take a variety of leadership positions. From task management to quality control, each student is asked during the course of a business cycle to take a leadership position so the business runs smoothly.”