One of the first videos students see at The Museum of Tolerances centers on the power of words. Immediately Joseph Stalin's virulent rhetoric saturates the screen—"Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas." For the remaining part of the 7th Grade's visit, students would not only be bombarded by examples of historical and current propaganda, but would also be inspired by stories of strength and unflagging hope...
Middle School (7-8)
The Brentwood Middle School program fulfills the academic, social, and emotional needs of 7th and 8th Grade students. No longer elementary school students, and not yet high school students, eleven to fourteen year olds are ready for more independence, academic challenge, and guidance.
In the Middle School, our emphasis is on deep understanding and wide participation, as well as learning how to learn. As students begin to take more responsibility for their own learning, the faculty remains supportive and nurtures curiosities and competencies. Students are exposed to a wide variety of experiences that help make this time of great transition and personal growth a successful one. The Middle School curriculum accentuates investigation and independent thinking while providing a solid knowledge base in all curricular areas.
Teachers work together to build explicit links between subjects to deepen students’ understanding of the world in which they live and to enable students to consider higher-level thinking. Our hope is to engender wonder and a belief in every student that s/he is a powerful learner.
In addition to preparing students for life after the Middle School, Brentwood School provides experiences that allow students to grow intellectually, physically, and with character. We believe that we should prepare our students to be confident, independent, and responsible citizens. It is also our aim to help students learn to lead their day-to-day lives with compassion and kindness and to serve the needs of others.
Our strong affective curriculum, promoted through our advisor program, recognizes the unique challenges and possibilities of this age. As peer relationships become more important and complex, mentors are key and moral reasoning is a critical skill to develop. Our 7th Grade advisor program is a multi-dimensional program that teaches the value of diversity while nurturing empathy and inclusion. Our 8th Grade program focuses on leadership skills for life and aligns well with the curriculum taught in many of the core classes.
Finally, our goal is to inspire enthusiasm for learning and to nourish each student’s intellectual and emotional development in a supportive and diverse community grounded in Brentwood School’s core values of trust, respect, responsibility, honesty, caring, community, and diversity. Our program and strong partnership between students, parents, and faculty will empower our middle schoolers to become well rounded, lifelong learners who are able to see through multiple lenses in order to understand and improve their world.
Middle School Director
One of the my favorite things about being in a school is that we have the opportunity to have two "new years", one in August and one in January. With every new year comes the chance for all of us, including the students, to reflect on what we have done in the past and set goals for the future. During our assembly this past Tuesday, we spoke with the students about doing just that. We kicked off the discussion with a short video highlighting the fact that water is extremely hot at 211 degrees while it boils at 212 degrees. That one extra degree makes a huge difference in the results! With this in mind, students were challenged to identify how they were going to turn up the heat during the second semester by developing an academic SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) goal. The Middle School faculty also set goals that included fostering and modeling a culture of learning, striving for academic excellence, and providing the most engaging learning experience possible for our students. As I reflect on the first semester and look ahead to the second, I see multiple ways in which we are working toward these goals.
Several teachers have attended both national and local conferences. They immediately implemented what they learned upon their return to school, including more meaningful ways for students to engage in group work and making learning more powerful through the extensive use of student reflection.
This spring, faculty will also attend workshops to be exposed to new ideas in music, film, and physical education, with a particular interest in looking at new pedagogy. In addition, members of the math team will attend a conference focused on learning the latest in math education techniques and various ways to integrate science, technology, and engineering into our math curriculum. Meanwhile, members of the science department will visit other schools outside of Los Angeles to get a first-hand look at classrooms, labs, and curriculum structured differently than our own.
While attending workshops, conferences, and visiting other schools is one way to foster a culture of learning, our teachers also learn from each other throughout the year. For example, early in the year, science and social studies teachers shared how they teach note taking. In the near future, other teachers will present a variety of ways to structure classroom time to increase opportunities for student problem solving and increase student engagement.
There are also opportunities for teachers to learn with one another. Late in the fall, ten faculty from across disciplines participated in a book study of Research Based Strategies to Ignite Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and a Classroom Teacher. The reading of the book culminated in a discussion about how to apply what we read to positively impact our students in the classroom, such as referencing prior knowledge and experiences to make connections to new learning. Reducing student anxiety was one of the most discussed principles. This conversation was a key factor in the redesign of the semester one assessment schedule to create a less stressful experience for students.
Looking back and looking ahead, I am excited about all of our efforts and conversations around academic excellence. The Middle School faculty has far exceeded my expectations in terms of their commitment to professional growth, both individually and collectively. They model turning up the heat for each other and their students. While the goal of achieving academic excellence is ongoing, our commitment to it can be witnessed in and out of the classroom everyday.
Have a great weekend.
Middle School Director
Thank you so much to everyone who participated in our Thanksgiving drives this year. As we continue with our holiday drives we wanted to take a moment to pause and show our appreciation for all that you have done so far! Below, enjoy a message from Lisa Glick, a few reflections from Middle School students about their experience, and a wrap up from James Hughes...