This year, DAA expanded to have a 6th grade crew, which means we officially have a middle school! These middle schoolers are spending an hour of their day in an “advisory” class. Depending on the day, middle school advisory is spent in many different ways: some advisory periods are split by gender, others by preference, and each span a range of topics which interest and appeal to a middle school student body. These topics could range from personal finance to health and hygiene. Etiquette may be explored one week, while stereotypes and societal norms will be discussed the next. Many of the middle school advisory topics were selected by the students. In expanding their curiosity and responsibility, our students chose topics that would be relevant to their experience not only as middle schoolers but as future high schoolers and active members of our Detroit community.
In a recent middle school advisory meeting, students explored elements of cooperative play - an element of middle school in which students practice, discuss and discover sports which they may experience in high school. This has become a time when our middle school students have been able to express themselves, push their comfort zones and feel safe and comfortable in the presence of adults (outside of regular crew meetings). These meetings are intentionally geared towards the mindset, skill-set and unique stage of life of the middle schooler. The focus remains on relationship building between students and also with their teachers.
With high school and college on the horizon for our middle schoolers, we hope to be teaching the whole child to achieve in the range of settings in which they will be placed. Middle school advisory teaches, challenges and practices the social, emotional and fundamental pieces of maturing into adulthood, and is a treasured time in the day of students and staff.