Core Beliefs

We have updated MAMLE’s Core Belief statements as of Summer 2018! Please check out our newest Core Belief Statements.

Core Belief Statements: What Works in Middle Level Education

Maine Association for Middle Level Education

Summer 2018

Authored by the MAMLE Board of Directors

Preamble

What it means to be engaged with middle level education has changed over the course of the 21st century. As an organization, we are continually committed to both attending to the changing environment of the middle school and supporting teachers and leaders in navigating these changes. However, the fundamentals of what encompasses effective teaching and student-teacher relationships at the middle level remains fundamental and unchanged, and as an organization we also acknowledge the need to avoid straying too far from the foundation of middle level education as a unique space for growing adolescents.

In order to emphasize our deep commitment to middle level education, we have co-written and published the following core beliefs, utilizing AMLE’s core belief statements as a foundation to then attend to the ways in which these core beliefs are exemplified in the state of Maine. These core beliefs function in a multitude of ways. The mission of our organization serves as a foundation for each core belief. The five core beliefs illustrated in this document are comprised of two different components– what the core belief represents in Maine and how different stakeholders in education may begin to utilize these core beliefs to empower our middle school students in grades 5-8. MAMLE-community generated resources to further implement these practices will be shared on a common virtual platform.

In reading this document, we encourage you to consider how your practices and school aligns with the five core beliefs, and how we can make middle school an empowering place and system in which our young adolescents grow and “become.” We also encourage that readers recognize the complexity of the teaching profession, particularly at the middle level, and use these core beliefs as guiding principles rather than prescriptive standards. In guiding your reading, leadership is used as an all-encompassing term that includes teacher leadership, administration, parent and community leadership, shared leadership, political leadership, and student leadership.  

All co-authors have generously donated their time and energy, and we sincerely thank their generosity. These co-authors comprised a variety of educational stakeholders, from educational researchers to middle level principals to teacher educators, and represent the varied voices in middle level education.

Katie Rybakova, Ph.D.

Executive Director, MAMLE

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We believe schools become the sweet spot to empower their becoming in grades 5-8 when…

Core Value #1: The developmental needs of young adolescents are met.

WHAT: During the middle years, young adolescents go through specific developmental changes that lead to their becoming. These include physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, psychological, and social-emotional development. Teachers use practices that are harmonious with these developmental characteristics and are aware of the following social forces that impact these developmental characteristics. Gender identity, sexual maturity, age, class, race, ethnicity, economics and notions of ableism, youth, immigration, (dis)ability, emotional stability (atypical neurological makeup), trauma, mental health, language, home life, and family support.  These elements are all equally intertwined and influence the developmental needs of our Maine middle level students.

HOW:

Preservice teachers will be able to:

  • Identify unique differences in developmental characteristics and how they are influenced by a combination of physical, emotional, and social forces in a young adolescent’s life.
  • Demonstrate a set of introductory classroom practices that are harmonious with the developmental characteristics of young adolescents.

Inservice teachers will be able to:

  • Construct classroom practices, learning activities, and assessments that are harmonious with the different developmental needs of all students and differentiate instruction to attend to the differing needs of adolescents; “learning is the constant, time is the variable” (Pelletier, 2014).   
  • Teach students self-advocacy skills aligned with their developmental needs.  
  • Identify unique differences in developmental characteristics and how they are influenced by a combination of physical, emotional, and social forces in a young adolescent’s life.

Leadership will be able to:

  • Identify unique differences in developmental characteristics and how they are influenced by a combination of physical, emotional, and social forces in a young adolescent’s life.
  • Facilitate, support, and promote a culture reflecting the developmental needs of students in collaboration with all available in and out of school supports for students.
  • Design and implement procedures which are harmonious with the developmental needs of young adolescents.
  • Acknowledge the unique needs of adolescents and show empathy towards how their needs impact and influence their learning and participation in school.

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We believe schools become the sweet spot to empower students’ becoming in grades 5-8 when…

Core Value #2: Teachers and school leaders participate in professional learning.

WHAT: Professional learning focuses on school structures and classroom practices harmonious with the developmental characteristics of middle level students. Professional learning is differentiated in nature– it can include professional reading, talking with teachers, conferences, workshops, webinars, micro-credentials, etc. Those professional learning experiences should be continuous, participant-driven, accessible, affordable, timely, and relevant.  Professional learning should attend to mentoring, networking, support, self care, advocacy, and specific local needs. Professional learning encompasses curriculum, communication and social skills, research skills, self management, and advocacy/social justice.

HOW:

Preservice teachers will be able to:

  • Identify and plan strategies for making it safe for themselves to take risks in their learning, and learn from mistakes, rather than simply “fail.”
  • Engage in reflective practices throughout their preservice teaching experience.
  • Engage in foundational middle level education professional learning such as attending workshops and conferences or visiting middle level classrooms.
  • Define and recognize curriculum that is challenging, exploratory, integrative, and relevant, including multiple learning and teaching approaches and applying varied and ongoing assessments that advance learning as well as measure it.

Inservice teachers will be able to:

  • Identify and attend affordable, timely, and relevant professional learning to suit their current needs in the middle level classroom.
  • Design a personal professional learning plan designed to increase a teacher’s knowledge base in pedagogy, content, and adolescent development providing for multiple assessments of the plan to determine if the stated goals are being achieved.
  • Network with middle level educators online and/or face to face to develop positive support, mentoring, and advocacy groups.
  • Regularly reflect on their skill level with and work toward becoming more proficient at creating curriculum that is challenging, exploratory, integrative, and relevant.

Leadership will be able to:

  • Support educators in their individualized, continuous, and collaborative professional learning making it safe for educators to take risks in their learning, and learn from mistakes, rather than simply “fail.”
  • Promote professional learning experiences and activities planned with input from participants, coordinated for comprehensiveness, and tied to practices harmonious with the developmental characteristics of young adolescents.
  • Encourage professional learning experiences that model effective middle level practices, inclusive of current middle level research.
  • Seek out and engage with out-of-school organizations to provide educators and administrators ideas and opportunities to enhance the development of educators.

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We believe schools become the sweet spot to empower their becoming in grades 5-8 when…

Core Values #3: Educators, students, and school leaders promote a healthy school and learning environment.

WHAT:  A healthy school environment for Maine middle level students, school leaders, and educators is a comfortable, safe, clean, accessible environment where physical, emotional, and academic safety is paramount, and collaboration is encouraged. Educators and students embrace their ability to learn and grow, and foster academic risk taking. Educators in this environment are supportive of their colleagues, positive, and expect all voices to be heard when making group or team decisions.  

HOW:

Preservice teachers will be able to:

  • Identify and define strategies for getting to know students well in order to create a school environment that is inviting, safe, and inclusive, including a plan for student advocacy.
  • Identify and plan strategies for making it safe for students to take risks in their learning, and learn from mistakes, rather than simply “fail.”
  • Identify and define strategies that help students develop and maintain healthy minds and bodies and understand their personal growth.

Inservice teachers will be able to:

  • Foster a class environment that is inviting, safe, inclusive, and supportive of all.
  • Incorporate opportunities for students to develop and maintain healthy minds, bodies, and personal growth.
  • Cultivate a climate of advocacy where each student has an adult who knows the student well and sees to the student’s needs for academic success and personal growth.

Leadership will be able to:

  • Cultivate a climate of advocacy where each student has an adult who knows the student well and sees to the student’s needs for academic success and personal growth.
  • Foster advisory programs or activities that ensures each student has meaningful opportunities to meet with an adult to plan and assess the student’s academic, personal, and social development.
  • Advocate for an environment where each member of the school community is valued and treated with respect, and positive relationships are recognized as a key factor in student learning.
  • Promote student health and wellness as a critical component in curricula, school-wide programs, and related procedures.  
  • Foster and advocate for guidance and support services to meet the needs of young adolescents.

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We believe schools become the sweet spot to empower their becoming in grades 5-8 when…

Core Belief #4: School leaders and teachers exemplify research-based best practices.

WHAT:  Students need teachers and leaders who sets high expectations in an engaging and collaborative environment with a pedagogical approach that is research-driven and informed. Research-driven incorporates quantitative, qualitative, and action research. High expectations include an integration of challenging curriculum, active learning, multiple learning pathways, quality formative and summative assessments, and organized structures that foster meaningful relationships and learning.

HOW:

Preservice teachers should be able to:

  • Identify and plan strategies that will encourage students to learn, adapt, and progress, even when they struggle.
  • Identify specific practices harmonious with developmental needs of middle level students into their lesson planning.
  • Develop lessons that connect the lesson plan rationale, objectives, assessment, and strategies to research-driven best practices.

Inservice teachers should be able to:

  • Identify, plan for, and implement strategies that will encourage students to learn, adapt, and progress, even when they struggle
  • Create and implement lessons that connect the lesson plan rationale, objectives, assessment, and strategies to research-driven best practices.
  • Advocate for their need for accessible research and best practices through texts, professional learning opportunities, and grant writing.  

Leadership should be able to:

  • Identify and support teachers in implementing middle level best practices and provide resources, including seminal publications.
  • Encourage and facilitate interdisciplinary teaching, team teaching, and/or co-teaching environments based on best practices.
  • Facilitate and support ongoing conversations among stakeholders that address relevant research, challenges, and/or strategies for implementing effective practices in their classrooms and across the school.

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We believe schools become the sweet spot to empower their becoming in grades 5-8 when…

Core Belief #5: The school invites the participation of families, students, and the community.   

WHAT:  Schools work to create a partnership with families and the community.  Through their actions and words, schools clearly state, “We are here with you.” This can be accomplished that through hosted events, consistent incoming and outgoing communication, learning activities situated within the larger community, and the services they provide to students, families, and the community. Diverse voices from families and community are both invited and actively sought.  

HOW:

Preservice teachers will be able to:

  • Identify how demographic and other student-context information impact school culture and student experiences and how these data inform helping students learn.
  • Create communication plans for their future classrooms in regards to how they will continually communicate with families and other stakeholders.
  • Reflect on the relationship between stakeholder communication, dialogue, and engagement.

Inservice teachers will be able to:

  • Create and implement communication plans for their classrooms focusing on continuous communication with families and other stakeholders.
  • Actively participate in community outreach.
  • Reflect on the relationship between stakeholder communication, dialogue, and engagement.

Leadership will be able to:

  • Support communication plans for classrooms focusing on continuous communication with families and other stakeholders.
  • Actively participate in and encourage community outreach.
  • Reflect on the relationship between stakeholder communication, dialogue, and engagement.

 

VIRTUAL PLATFORM COMING FALL 2019

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