At Willow’s recent Middle School Open House, students and teachers led guests through A Day in the Life of a Willow middle schooler, with fun panels and workshops taking place throughout the evening. So, what does a day in Willow’s middle school look like?
The day begins with a school-wide Morning Gathering on Monday and Friday. At Morning Gathering, the school gathers together as a community to learn about one another, model the values we share, and reflect on what is important. Morning Gathering sets the tone for respectful learning and establishes a climate of reflection and trust. It is a wonderful way to start the school day!
Tuesday through Thursday, middle school students start their days with either a middle school meeting, time with their advisory groups, or chorus. During time with their advisory groups, middle school students meet with their advisor and peers from different middle school grades to work on skills such as time management, peer relations, study skills, goal setting, team building, and other valuable organizational and interpersonal skills. Then, it’s off to class!
Class periods are 45 minutes long. There are four class periods in the morning, and three in the afternoon. Core classes consist of Math, Social Studies, English, Science, and Language. Students choose to study either French or Spanish, and all middle school students study Latin. During the Middle School Open House, workshops and recent sample projects were presented by teachers and students in each of these core subjects.
In “Latin Maxims and Roman Virtues,” middle school students presented shields they made out of the ancient sayings that meant the most to them, explaining how this classroom activity connected to the 8th grade year’s overall theme, “Who am I?” The self-discovery theme of eighth grade connects back to the kindergarten program at Willow, where students explore the same question. For graduating students, it’s an important time to reflect on how they have grown and how they will continue to grow beyond Willow.
During the Social Studies workshop, students led guests in a cultural exchange simulation. The group of guests split into two imaginary cultures with very different ways of communicating. As the two cultures tried to interact with each other, guests learned how difficult cultural exchanges can be, how easy it is to misinterpret each other, and began to compromise to better communicate. In the student-led Math workshop, guests were taught how to measure two- and three-dimensional objects. In English, students introduced guests to the concept of a land ethic, a term coined by Aldo Leopold. Guests were then asked to write about their relationship to the earth and create a visual representation of their own land ethic, learning about intent versus interpretation.
Finally, during the Science workshop, guests built structures out of spaghetti and marshmallows on handmade shake tables, using what they learned about seismology and architecture to make a structure that could withstand an earthquake.
After two morning classes, middle school students have a ten minute break to have a snack and chat with their friends. Then two more classes, and it’s time for lunch and recess. Lunch is natural, nutritious, and delicious! Willow’s chef prepares a seasonal menu that encourages students to try new foods, while catering to student allergies and dietary restrictions. Students eat with a mixed group of middle schoolers in different grades that changes monthly. Students have jobs to complete each day, including clearing plates, collecting compost or garbage, and wiping the table. During recess, students have free time to explore and socialize outside or spend time on the arts.
Then it’s back to class! In the afternoon, students have additional core classes as well as music, art, and wellness in a rotating schedule.
At the end of the day, middle schoolers have time to meet with teachers, work on group projects, or do their homework during Academic Support, a 40-minute period that ends the school day three days a week. On the other days, middle schoolers enjoy an elective of their choice, for example the Cities of the Future architectural design course, Mallets & Gongs music elective, debate, and yearbook.
School ends at 3pm, but many students stay for Math Nation, sports, or after school enrichment activities that include Coding Club, acting, non-competitive athletic clubs, and many other options.
Contact Sally Zeiner, Willow’s Admissions Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (908) 470-9500.