At Maharishi School, we embrace our middle school students, fully recognizing that they represent a developmental group in their own right—no longer primary students but not yet high schoolers either. Our middle school includes 7th and 8th graders taught by a close-knit team of teachers who understand that before they can learn math and history, these young adolescents may need to learn how to make friends, or organize their lockers—or cope with the changes happening to their bodies.
Middle school students start and end their academic day with yoga and meditation, a program ideally adapted to help them get centered and to cope with new challenges. The emphasis on reflection on the learning process continues as students learn to recognize their own strengths and to set learning goals for themselves in line with the targets their teachers introduce in class. Tangible progress is demonstrated as students work through multiple drafts of writing assignments and projects, learning to critique their own work and provide peer feedback using rubrics and exemplars.
In addition to core classes—math, science, social studies and English—students take music, art, computer programming and of course physical education. They also have a unique interdisciplinary course that helps them see connections between their subjects and themselves, through the study of underlying universal principles.This year, the middle school has begun creating individualized portfolios and to lead their own parent-teacher conferences, discussing strengths and areas that need improvement with confidence and clarity.
In middle school, we have the scope to integrate projects more proactively with our approach to the academic “core,” creating hands-on experiences that blur the artificial lines between subject areas. Students at this age work best when they can explore with their hands and then reflect with their heads on what they have experienced. Extended projects like science and history fairs provide multidisciplinary platforms to integrate core literacy skills, including critical reading and reflective writing along with presentation and collaboration.
Throughout our middle school classes, we create as many opportunities to work in groups as possible, playing to students’ individual learning preferences while also challenging them to stretch beyond their comfort zones. Because of the diversity that is represented in our student body, students learn to respect and embrace multiple perspectives from an early age, whether through face to face interaction with their peers or through virtual collaboration and research.
All students from middle school upward work with Chrome books and laptops to conduct research, communicate with teachers and collaborate with peers, and to publish their work.