This We Believe : Barber Believes

A Barber Book Study…
This We Believe:
Barber Believes
The Importance of
Middle Level Education
Time of rapid and profound personal changeshormonal shifts, changes in thinking patterns,
concerns about image and peer acceptance
Moral development emerges
Performance in school is dependent on changing
needs being met
Hunger for positive informal adult relationships
Awareness of the economic impact of marketing
How does Barber compare?
Physical transformation between 6th
and 8th grades
Status determined by the type of cell
phone carried
Socialization more important than
Multiple interactions with the nurse,
counselors, advisement teachers, and
extra curricular activities
Belief 1
Educators value working with this age
group and are prepared to do so.
The uniqueness of this age group is understood.
Middle level educators have a zest for living.
The dynamics of the ever-changing youth culture is
The value of interdisciplinary studies is recognized.
Middle level educators serve as role models for the
Specific preparation is needed before teaching middle
level students.
A depth of knowledge in a specific content is needed.
Schools and school districts provide ongoing
professional development.
How does Barber prepare its
teachers to teach this age group?
Many staff development opportunities are provided
throughout the year for all teachers.
Barber teachers have a depth of knowledge in a
specific content: secondary certified, highly
qualified SPED, and middle grades certification with
specific concentrations.
Teachers at Barber serve as role models everyday!
The uniqueness of this age group is understood
through our various clubs, organizations, year long
connections, and spirit days.
We enjoy being with young adolescents, or we
would not be here.
Belief 2
Courageous, collaborative leadership
Principal has the central leadership role. She
understands adolescents and the theory and best
practices in middle level education.
Principal’s role includes:
Educate students, parents, teachers, and community
about the middle school philosophy for continuous
school improvement.
Change practices that don’t work.
Make the hard decisions that are needed in order to
meet the needs of every student.
The Principal has the key role in establishing
professional development that is meaningful and
relevant for continuous school improvement.
How does Barber provide courageous
and collaborative leadership?
The principal has a strong belief that improvement does
not depend on a single person; therefore, the principal
must develop strong teacher leaders and a true
collaborative school culture.
Teacher leaders facilitate discussions among grade
levels, teams, and departments. They lead professional
learning among their colleagues. In house leadership
and expertise is valued and practiced.
As a commitment to collaborative school culture, the
principal establishes expectations and provides a
framework for collaboration focusing on student learning
results, analysis of student work, and instructional best
practices to promote student learning.
Belief 3
A shared vision that guides decisions
Student success starts with a mission statement that is
shared by all, from students to community members.
Middle educators have to live the philosophies of the vision.
Everyone buys in to the mission of the school.
The mission statement must include relevant state and
federal guidelines as well as being data driven. The most
important key in middle level mission statements is in the
knowledge we have about growth and development in
students ages 10-15.
Once the vision and mission statement are operational,
middle level educators must then develop a challenging
academic program, methods to guide decision making and
steps to make needed changes.
Mission statement must be a living document that changes
as research and new practices emerge.
How does Barber provide a shared
vision that guides decisions?
Weekly grade level meetings
Content area meetings
School Improvement Plan meetings
Community partnership meetings
Response to Intervention meetings
School Council meetings
PTSA meetings
Belief 4
An inviting, supportive, & safe environment
A happy school promotes higher levels of learning and
promotes student’s sense of self.
Relationships are important.
Visitors see a polite, well structured environment.
Mutual respect between teachers, staff, and students is
Differences are respected and celebrated.
Intellectual risks are encouraged.
Every student has at least one adult advocate.
Student’s progress is displayed and celebrated.
All accomplishments within a school should and does
require constant nurturing.
How does Barber provide an inviting,
supportive, and safe environment?
Honor Roll lists are displayed
Honor Roll breakfasts
Advisement each week (Advocate for every child)
7th Grade Parent Night
6th Grade Rocks Night
Teachers display student work inside & outside of classrooms
Academic Bowl
Girl’s Leadership
Girl Talk
Teacher Collaboration
Reflections Writing
Dance and Drama Plays
Band and Chorus Concerts
Fish Club
Red Ribbon Week
The places for a student to plug into Barber are numerous.
Belief 5
High expectations for everyone
in the learning community
Successful middle schools are grounded in the
understanding that young adolescents are capable of far
more than adults often assume.
Teachers should hold high expectations for themselves and
their students, and vice versa.
Teachers convey high expectations through personal
examples, gestures, casual remarks, and attitudes.
Teachers should empower students to learn, to become
intellectually engaged, and to behave as responsible
This teaches self-discipline, initiative, and responsibility.
How does Barber maintain high expectations
for every member in the learning community?
Faculty and Staff at Barber conduct themselves in a
professional manner, establishing a positive example
for their students.
Teachers hold high expectations for academics and
Overall, students and faculty do a great job of meeting
these expectations. This school culture provides an
effective environment for learning and working.
Belief 6
Students & teachers are
engaged in active learning
The most successful learning strategies involve each
student personally.
Students should be the center of the learning process.
Students are viewed as the actors not just the audience.
Students should become more active in the teachinglearning process at this age.
“Hands-joined” activities (students and teachers develop
together) should be used.
Conditions of genuine learning are present when students
assume the role of the teacher and teachers demonstrate
that they are still learners.
How are Barber students and teachers
engaged in active learning?
Barber Middle School has offered all teachers the
opportunity to be trained on effective student
engagement in the classroom.
Teachers at Barber provide engaging learning
opportunities for all students.
Teachers implement performance based activities into
learning, thus facilitating student engagement.
Teachers can continue to seek opportunities to extend
beyond student compliance, and engage students in
their learning.
Belief 7
An adult advocate for every student
Academic success and personal growth increase when
students’ needs are met.
Students need opportunities to discuss their many
concerns with trusted adult advocates.
and LIAISONS for the students.
This concept of advocacy should be embedded within the
school’s culture and not limited to a single event or a
regularly scheduled time…it is an attitude of caring by
adults towards students.
Advocates are in a position to recognize changes that
should be addressed by the appropriate staff members
(counselors, administrators, etc.)
How does Barber provide an adult
advocate for every student?
Each adult at Barber fulfills the role of advocate on a daily
basis. However, specific student needs are met when:
Guidance counselors act as LISTENERS for students who
are uncomfortable sharing personal situations with
Academic and Connections Teachers act as GUIDES and
ROLE MODELS for students when they set standards in
their classes and provide a means for those standards to be
Homeroom Teachers act as LIAISONS between home and
school when they relay important information to parents
and when they conduct annual conferences in January.
Advisement Teachers act as LISTENER, GUIDE, ROLE
MODEL, and LIAISON when they meet weekly to facilitate
discussion on topics relevant to the lives of the adolescents
here at Barber.
Belief 8
School-initiated family & community partnerships
•Continuing parental involvement is as important as ever, so schools
must take initiative to develop needed home-school bonds.
•Research shows involvement of both family and other adults in the
community improved student behavior and greater overall support
for schools.
•Newsletters, report cards, parent/teacher conferences, emails, Web
sites, student led conferences, and homework hotlines are valuable
communication tools to inform and involve parents/community
•Middle schools should involve appropriate partnerships with
businesses, social service agencies, and other organizations whose
purposes are consistent with the school’s mission.
•Families should spend time engaged in their children’s learning to
demonstrate a belief in the importance of school success.
How does Barber support school-initiated
family and community partnerships?
Barber supports teacher, parent, and student activities,
such as 6th grade events, PTSA,
band/orchestra/chorus concerts, dance/drama
performances, and open house.
PTA has created programs for families to attend. For
example, Barber hosts the “MORE” breakfast where
fathers can be more involved in their student’s success
in school.
Teachers send home communication tools
appropriately. Teachers also update daily
communication resources, such as homework hotline
and teacher blogs.
Students get involved with partnering organizations,
such as “Winning Spirits.”
Parents are encouraged get involved by participating in
school wide activities as well as staying updated with
the home communication tools.
Belief 9
Curriculum that is relevant, challenging,
integrative, and exploratory
Both students and teachers must have the perspective that
the curriculum is relevant, challenging, integrative, and
Effective curriculum needs to have learning activities that
appeal to young adolescents and create opportunities for
them to pose and answer questions that are relevant to
themselves, the content, and the world.
Challenging curriculum requires significant collaboration
among all teachers, counselors, school social workers,
parents and students. Both content and methods must be
diversified and individualized by offering choices among
learning opportunities and provide challenges for all
students to reach and grow, whatever their current abilities.
Belief 9 continued…
Curriculum integrates critical thinking, decision
making, and creativity for students to produce or
construct knowledge rather than simply being
consumers of information.
Young adolescents, by nature, are
adventuresome, curious explorers. Exploratory
curriculum is an attitude and approach, not a
classification of content. Students deserve
opportunities to engage in activities that will
broaden their views of the world and themselves
as well as enriches their life or contributes to
their development as a well-rounded individual
and participant in their community.
How does Barber support a curriculum that is
relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory?
Relevant - Barber collaborative teams work together to provide
students learning opportunities that are relevant to the student,
content, and current events in the world and our community. Teams
also create new opportunities and interests for new knowledge and
new levels of learning. Teams could improve on focusing on
generating and expanding on student generated questions to make
curriculum more relevant.
Challenging - Barber collaborative teams work together to provide
challenging learning opportunities that are aligned with GPS
standards, emphasizing higher level thinking and differentiate to
meet individual student needs. Teams could improve on knowledge
lessons that focus on copying or memorizing rather than allowing
the student to be the thinker and explorer.
How does Barber support a curriculum that is
relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory?
Integrative - Barber collaborative teams work together to
provide students learning opportunities that provide
experiences that show that content can be applied in other
subject areas. Some collaborative subject area teams
especially reading integrate other subjects in planned units
and of course reading is integrated in each subject. Teams
can improve by working more closely to integrate even
Exploratory - Barber collaborative teams can improve by
helping students explore through individual study or
Belief 10
Multiple learning and teaching approaches
that respond to their diversity
Young adolescents learn best through engagement
and interaction that involves dialogue with teachers
and with one another.
Individual differences are accommodated through
varied approaches such as group projects,
demonstrations, and independent study.
Teachers collaborate to design differentiated learning
activities that will challenge each student learner.
Teachers use instructional materials and resources
that provide multiple viewpoints and encourage
students to explore new ideas.
Teachers integrate technology where applicable to
help develop independence and higher-order thinking
Teachers provide students the opportunity to present
what they have learned.
How does Barber support multiple learning and
teaching approaches that respond to student diversity?
Here at Barber we…
S - Collaboratively design engaging lesson plans that
encourage students to ask questions and share
viewpoints in a dialogue with teachers and with one
S - Collaboratively design engaging lesson plans that
accommodate individual differences through varied
approaches such as group projects, presentations, and
independent study
We meet standards here at Barber, the more time we have
to do this the better the results
We meet to develop lesson plans that provide all students
the opportunity to further the skills they have mastered
and develop new skills
NI - Collaborate to design differentiated learning
activities that will challenge each student learner where
he or she is
While we are meeting standards on our collaborative design
we believe we could do better at differentiating learning
activities to meet the needs of each student learner
Belief 11
Assessment and evaluation programs
that promote quality learning
Continuous, authentic, and appropriate assessment and evaluation
provides evidence about student’s progress.
Students should set personal goals and reflect on them.
Assessment is estimating a student’s progress toward an objective.
Evaluation is using data and standards to judge quality or level of
Evaluation criteria should be specified in advance with a rubric.
Various assessment strategies are needed to address all aspects of
a student’s development; I.e. critical thinking, independence,
Assessment and evaluation should address individual progress and
intrinsic motivation. Effort should be recognized.
Students, families, and teachers all have active roles in evaluating
How does Barber provide assessment and
evaluation programs that promote quality learning?
Using the data wall and enrichment classes help teachers make classes
challenging for all students.
Barber’s Advisement Program helps students set personal goals.
The training on formative assessment has emphasized the need for continuous
and ongoing assessment.
Most teachers use rubrics to grade projects; however, the criteria is often
difficult to categorize.
Barber teachers believe that using various assessment strategies at higher
level thinking activities is very difficult. That does not mean it should not be
done; it’s just difficult to design an assessment and/or rubric that reflects the
student’s thinking.
It is difficult to put enough emphasis on individual progress. Even with
differentiating, some students need more time on assignments or a different
level of thinking. As far as intrinsic motivation, by definition the teachers
should not have to provide this. ZAP is an example of encouraging intrinsic
motivation. We do provide plenty of extrinsic motivation (jolly ranchers).
Although parents don’t grade papers, they do take an active role in evaluating
how well students are doing by reading the blogs and looking at I-Parent.
Belief 12
Organizational structures that support
meaningful relationships and learning
Organize interdisciplinary teams.
Teachers and students know and support each other.
Contact with students and parents is easier in a team
Daily common planning is essential.
Looping helps achieve “family”.
Limiting tracking encourages enrichment, cooperative
learning, and independent study.
How does Barber provide organizational structures
that support meaningful relationships and learning?
Barber tries to keep teachers on the same teams each
Our teams truly become a family where we teachers
support and aide each other.
Team members constantly discuss what is best for our
students, and we discuss parents we have contacted.
We share what has helped with our students and how
parents reacted.
We rock with our common planning!
We don’t loop, but it would be interesting to see how
the students’ performance is affected.
Belief 13
School-wide efforts and policies that
foster health, wellness, and safety
Promote abundant opportunities for students to develop and maintain healthy
minds and bodies and to understand their personal growth.
Address risks associated with drugs, alcohol, tobacco, eating habits, and
sexual activities.
Concentrate on areas of students’ lives that enhance or interfere with
Encourage adults to model healthy habits.
Offer daily physical education activities that improve students’ cardiovascular
fitness, coordination, agility, and strength.
Emphasize and provide lifelong physical activities (dance, leisure sports,
fitness programs, and intramural programs recognized by national standards).
Maintain an environment in which peaceful and safe interactions are expected
and supported as well as communicated to entire school community.
“In such schools students have an increased sense of well-being and a greater
likelihood of succeeding academically.”
How does Barber support school-wide efforts and
policies that foster health, wellness, and safety?
Health class
Red Ribbon Week
Relay for Life
Advisement (safe place to talk)
PE class
Belief 14
Multifaceted Guidance & Support Services
Counselors, special needs teachers, school psychologists,
social workers, nurses, and community liaisons assist with
learning difficulties, social adjustments, family issues and
health problems
School Counselors support teachers in advisory programs,
conduct classroom guidance activities, and offer individual
and group guidance sessions as needed.
Middle School Counselors facilitate transition programs and
activities for students entering and exiting middle school.
Student Advocacy Programs provide assistance to ALL
 Counselors, Administrators, and Teachers are all involved
 Meet with small groups of students during the school day
 Help students develop respect for self and others
 Fosters compassion, values, cooperation, decision
making, and goal setting
How does Barber provide multi-faceted
guidance and support services?
Two full-time school counselors currently operate and function as
outlined in This We Believe through the following responsibilities:
 RTI facilitation
 Retention
 Referrals are made to other school and community resources as
 Works closely with Graduation Coach to identify and support “atrisk” learners
 Classroom Guidance lessons are regularly scheduled to provide all
students with lessons on life and academic related skills
 Individual and Group guidance sessions are on-going
 Advisement (Facilitation as well as lesson planning/management)
Weekly Advisement Groups serve as the school’s “Student Advocacy
Program”, in addition to other relationship and mentoring activities
provided on a daily basis by teachers, staff, and community
liaisons (ie. Mentoring, MORE tutoring, Girl Talk, “Swagger” Group,
Girls Leadership, etc.).
This We Believe
The following teachers participated in the This We Believe
Faculty Book Study and contributed to this presentation.
Book Study Facilitators: Mary Jo Dukes, Ashlynn Campbell, Sharon Wilkie
Laurie Carroll
Kay Clark
Jeannie Collins
Yevonne Dean
Charles Matthews
Lenora Nyeste
Renee Rains
Lynn Shearer
Jenna Smith
Ashley Stiefel
Amy Strader
Tiffany Tindall
Jill Tolbert
Vicki Washington
Lisa Williams