Middle school counselors are professional educators with a mental health perspective who understand and respond to the challenges presented by today’s diverse student population. Middle school counselors do not work in isolation; rather they are integral to the total educational program.
If you were to ask most middle schoolers, they would say that their friends mean more to them than almost anything else right now. Middle school is a social place. Negotiating friendships can be difficult for some children, and can be a major factor with regard to the transition to middle school. Because there are seven different elementary schools coming together, it is natural that students’ friendships will shift, sometimes dramatically, during this time. This can be somewhat tumultuous for some children. Counselors and teachers are aware of this challenge, and are willing to help with this.
Social media and messaging have become a significant issue with some students at OMS. Messaging is a popular and major source of communication for many kids. Most students also use websites and apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, Kik, Ask FM, or Facebook to chat. While for older adolescents it can be a great way for kids to communicate with each other, there are obvious pitfalls. It can be a disruption to evening homework, as the phone and television can be. Feuds between individuals or groups can also be magnified online. Many kids feel more comfortable confronting each other in cyberspace than they do in person or on the phone.
It is important to monitor social media and Internet use as much as possible. One way is to “block” others from seeing you online. Most modern social media apps or websites have a help section that explains how to block or mute other users. Also, any social networking profiles should be made "private" so only selected friends can view them. No identifying information such as address, phone number, or email address should be displayed, and passwords should never be given out. Middle school students often don't have the ability to control their impulses and are not cognitively ready for the responsible use of these modes of communication; they need adult guidance in utilizing these tools.
The amount of homework that is expected in middle school can be an adjustment for some students. Teachers give homework on most nights and most weekends. Often students have an opportunity to start homework during directed studies and after school time. It is advisable for families to schedule evenings with a block of “homework time” even before school begins. Students are expected to work on homework no longer than 30 minutes per night per subject. If you see that your child is spending more time than this, please note this in his or her agenda book.
Middle school presents children with many new challenges. One major challenge is staying organized. Students have upwards of 6-8 different teachers and classes. Learning to negotiate keeping up with assignments and teacher personalities is a learning process throughout middle school. Most 6th graders struggle with organization, especially during the first term. Teachers will frequently run notebook and locker cleanouts. It is also advisable to do a backpack cleanout periodically as well.
In order to help students keep up with assignments, each child is given an agenda book in the beginning of every year in which they are required to write down their daily assignments and map out their long-term assignments. Parents are strongly encouraged to check the agenda book and completed homework nightly to check whether it’s getting done! Some students may need help making sure completed work and other materials are getting into the correct place in their notebooks.
If you have a question or a concern about something that is going on in a particular class, it is best to contact that teacher directly. The head of the particular department can be helpful also. Counselors can help facilitate conversations; administrators supervise all personnel in the building.
1. If teacher feels that a student is unwell or unsafe the teacher is to take the student to the nurse, guidance counselor, and or administrator. At all times the student needs to be accompanied by an adult.
2. The teacher informs the nurse, guidance counselor, administrator of the teachers concerns.3. The nurse, guidance counselor, and/or administrator will inform the student of the concerns and the steps that will be taken to ensure his/her safety.
4. The nurse, guidance counselor, and/or administrator will inform the legal guardian of the student of concerns regarding the student. If school personnel feel that a mental health safety evaluation is needed, a crisis team (Advocates Inc. (800) 640-5432) can perform an evaluation at the school, or the legal guardian may immediately transport the student for an evaluation, preferably with Advocates, Children’s Hospital, or Cambridge Hospital. A student under 18 will not be evaluated without the permission of a legal guardian. The student may not return to school without a signed statement by a licensed mental health clinician that the student is safe to return to school.5. If a student’s legal guardian refuses to give permission for the student to be evaluated, the school will file a 51A with the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
6. Before a student returns to classes, a reentry meeting must occur (preferably with an administrator, counselor, and school nurse) with the legal guardian and student with the signed statement for a licensed mental health clinician that the student is safe to return to school.
We asked our sixth graders what their favorite things about the 6th grade were. These were some of the best highlights!
“The teachers. You will love them. You know how a dog is man’s best friend? Change that to teachers.”
“The teachers are so much fun. The books are cool, and so are the field trips.”
“The Ottoson dances.”
“The field trips, projects, and movies.”
“Having periods instead of one class, and going to Canobie Lake!”
“New schedules and getting breaks. Also, the teachers make learning fun and the projects are fun.”
“The projects are really fun, such as the math fair project.”
“Doing literature circles and Soar activity period.”
“Going to the dances and art class.”
“All the elementary schools come together!”
“The pizza at lunch and Language Arts class.”
“Meeting new friends.”“Having so many different teachers.”
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