The “in between” years. This is what middle school is often regarded as before students enter the more serious, college-focused portion of their academic path. However, in today’s global education landscape, this mindset needs to change. The years in middle school and the transition into high school have become increasingly important in readying students with the knowledge, confidence, and grit needed to excel in high school and beyond.
At BASIS Independent Schools, we have crafted an internationally benchmarked middle school experience to reflect these growing expectations. Our nationally recognized BASIS Curriculum, shared between all schools within our network and topping the 2018 rankings of best high schools in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report, and our Subject Expert Teachers unite to ensure our students are the best prepared to get the most out of middle school.
Using Knowledge as a Tool
In middle school, students begin to contextualize their learning. In the BASIS Independent Middle School Program, students not only continue to build strong foundational knowledge in many different disciplines, but also learn how to apply that knowledge to fuel their critical inquiry and problem-solving skills. Knowledge becomes a tool they can use to make connections between different subjects: our middle school curriculum encourages interdisciplinary learning with courses such as logic, economics, English, History, fine arts, taking each of the three sciences (biology, chemistry, physics) at once, and more.
Our sister school, BASIS Independent Brooklyn, has seen the results of our Middle School Program for several years now. Biology Subject Expert Teacher Ms. Thorne, who teaches grade 6 at BASIS Independent Brooklyn, says, “I love the fact that our curriculum actually challenges our kids. A lot of the time in public schools we often hear ‘okay, wait until you are at this age to tackle this topic,’ and it’s always like a waiting game for students when, actually, they’re ready for that information—they’re thirsty for it. And here, we give it to them, and they really rise to meet it.”
Learning from the Experts
In middle school, our students have access to Subject Expert Teachers who have deep content knowledge and real-life expertise in their chosen topic. Our teachers are not only extremely passionate about what they teach, but they are invested in helping students excel: they want our students to become writers, historians, scientists, and mathematicians. Inspiring students actually comes easy when the teachers are truly excited about their material.
“We treat middle school as serious, cool academic work that is brought to life by expert educators dedicated to their discipline,” reiterates middle school Math Subject Expert Teacher Mr. Williams, from BASIS Independent McLean. “As a result, students have a great time. We make academics fun because it’s challenging, it’s interesting, and we have a group of teachers who know how to set up activities for students where they can communicate and interact with each other. They brainstorm and they come up with real solutions to complex problems—our kids find that fascinating.”
Growing Lifelong Skills
Our Middle School Program aims to prepare students for high school and higher-level learning by helping them hone specific skills that they will carry with them throughout their lives. This means building effective study and organizational skills, learning how to plan, managing their workload and extracurriculars, and maintaining a great work ethic. “Each day, students have an Academic Enrichment period where they are encouraged to write down upcoming projects, homework assignments, key due dates, quizzes, and more in their CJ (Communication Journal), which is a planner that students are taught to use daily,” says Chemistry and Biology Subject Expert Teacher Ms. Kost, who teaches grade 6 at BASIS Independent Manhattan. “This helps them build key study and work habits, which helps them with overall organization and time management prior to entering high school.”
When students feel confident in what and how they are learning, they can better make decisions, self-assess what their needs are, and make improvements accordingly.
Building Student Autonomy
The formative middle school years are where students really begin to construct and refine self-advocacy and independence. Instead of acting on impulse, middle school students start to observe the situations around them and how to take appropriate measures to deal with challenges. In these years, students begin to understand that they can take control of their education as they discover what interests them and what they are passionate about, and we give them every opportunity to do so.
We also ensure students have access to a number of levels of support and give them the chance to ask for help. Putting the control in their hands is key to reinforcing this idea of autonomy. History & Languages Subject Expert Teacher Mr. Camba at BASIS Independent Manhattan, states, “From the deans to student hours to peer tutoring, students are encouraged to seek help for homework, questions brought up in class, and more. There is a team mentality among all the groups at work to make success happen.”
If you’re curious to learn more about our Middle School Program, join us at an upcoming event on May 17! Register here.