"Long after they've forgotten what you taught them, they will remember how you treated them."
-author unknown

Friday, February 10, 2012

Customized Learning

Perhaps you've heard about RSU#4's new path toward Mass Customized Learning (MCL).  We have been existing in an educational setting that is truly archaic.  It was created in the 1800's during the industrial revolution.  Our educators have been doing as well as possible under this system.  The State Dept. of Education and the RSU#4 School Board have decided that it is time for a change in our delivery system. This is no small feat.  We are used to what we have always done.  There are some models out there to examine, but what we have discovered throughout numerous conversations is that MCL looks different from one place to another, across states, towns and schools.

With the commitment from the school board, we are moving forward with some planning.  There will be training available for educators and administrators.  We are visiting other schools that are in this process in order to learn from their successes and mistakes.

The premise behind MCL is that students are able to progress through an established set of standards and learning targets at their own pace.  This is a gross over-simplification of a significant shift in practice and school culture.  Students receive learning plans that guide them though the learning targets.  These plans establish the necessary activities that must be completed prior to assessments.  Multiple resources are available to the student for guidance.  In using this system, students are typically more successful with exams and assessments as they don't complete them until they are ready.

We are taking small steps towards MCL.  All of our teachers are establishing and communicating learning targets to their students.  Ask your child about learning targets.  They should be able to tell you which learning targets they are working towards in each of their classes.

For more information, visit the MCL website posted on the right-hand navigation bar or give us a call!    

Friday, February 3, 2012

Counseling services at OHMS

As has been discussed in this blog and in person with many parents, the middle school years are a time represented by significant physical, social and emotional change.  This is not news to any of us who spend time with pre-adolescents.  Most kids this age do not have fully developed coping skills to handle these changes alone.  They need our help.  They need help from home and they need help from school.  It truly does take a village to raise a child.  An integral part of this team approach is a school counselor.  The roles of the teacher, administrator, bus driver, and custodian in a school are all pretty clear.  Not so much for the school counselor.  I hope to add some clarification.

To start, we have several staff members that fill counselor-like roles.  In addition to our school counselor we have a two 1/2 time social workers.  These roles are quite specific in working with identified students through their IEPs or 504 plans.  They are attached to specific programs and provide more of a therapeutic service.  Our social workers are not typically accessed by the general student population.

We have a full time time school counselor at OHMS.  Her name is Mrs. Cloutier.  Her job is complex and multi-faceted.  Her primary role is to service students.  All students are able to access Mrs. Cloutier through appointments.  The reasons for students meeting with Mrs. Cloutier are as varied as the students themselves.  Issues with friendships, troubles at home or in the classroom and the all too common low self-esteem cause many of these meetings.  Her job is to listen and support the student through advocacy and problem-solving. She is a very busy lady.

Mrs. Cloutier also works to acclimate and register new students. She meets with new students and their families to develop schedules and provide as smooth a transition as possible.  She teaches career prep skills, holds social skills groups, runs a "walking group" and has duties.  All in a day.

Supporting students through their middle years takes everyone being involved.  These are special kids and they deserve special treatment.  Our counselors and social workers are a lesser known, but entirely crucial part of OHMS and the education we provide.  Please call if you feel your child could benefit from these services!