WHAT DOES STUDENT OWNERSHIP LOOK LIKE?

Jackie Pisani, Director of Marketing and Communications

No one loves buzz words more than schools. Educators may use pedagogical phrases that they assume parents understand which may often stifle parents to ask questions because the vocabulary is a novel one to them.

Student ownership is one of those phrases in heavy rotation.

What does it mean?

Quite simply, ownership to learning means that a learner is motivated, engaged and self-directed. A student can monitor their own progress and is able to reflect on his or her learning based on mastery of content according to educator Kathleen McClaskey. 

What does student ownership look like at KO?

Take Middle School math teacher Stacey Tomkeil’s approach to gauge students’ understanding of the important parts of a parabola like the maximum point, line of symmetry, and the x and y-intercepts. Instead of scheduling a test, Tomkeil offered the students to work on a self-designed project covering the topic.

“Students are more committed to the assignment. They can express it in a way that they are comfortable instead of me saying ‘You have to take a test.’ They usually do more for me than what I had asked. And, an additional benefit in assignments like these is I also get to see their personality, too,” said Tomkeil.

Tomkeil gave the students the choice to work on their projects independently or collaboratively and established some parameters. By leaving the assignment open-ended, Tomkeil found the students were having more conversations about the math itself. She checked their work along the way to make sure they were working in-depth, and the feedback she gave to her students allowed them to strategize, adjust and rethink their approach.

Technology has expanded the number of creative resources available to students and permits them to play to their strengths and truly make the work their own. Some students opted to use video, another group created a pop-up book, another produced a Google form incorporating pictures. Students shared their assignments on a padlet, an online virtual “bulletin” board, where students and teachers can collaborate, reflect, share links and pictures, in a secure location. 

Freeing the students in this manner enables them to become active participants in their own learning. They are learning how to learn.

 

STUDENTS THRIVE BEST WHEN THEY KNOW THEIR LEARNING STYLES

Jackie Rubin, Director of Academic Skills

When psychologists began assessing human intelligence a century ago, their measurements were based largely on an individual’s verbal and mathematical abilities. During the past two decades, however, researchers have determined that there are in fact at least eight different types of intelligence:

• Linguistic–Verbal

• Logical–Mathematical

• Spatial–Visual

• Body–Kinesthetic

• Musical Intelligence

• Interpersonal–Social

• Intrapersonal–Self

• Naturalist-Scientific

The discovery that there are many different ways of being smart has been profoundly helpful to teachers as they seek to engage and motivate students. While instructional methods have traditionally been geared largely to students with linguistic and logical intelligence, teachers have devised new lessons, experiences and activities to stimulate and nurture children with many different types intelligence.

When I first meet seventh-graders in my Life Skills class, I ask them to name three things they know they’re good at. Their responses might range from soccer (Body–Kinesthetic Intelligence) to chess (Logical–Mathematical Intelligence) to singing (Musical Intelligence). Identifying these areas of success and enjoyment not only boosts children’s self-confidence and sense of achievement, but it also helps teachers determine what types of educational approaches will be most productive for each student.

Another helpful way to determine how students learn best is to figure out their preferred learning styles. While some students exhibit a strong preference for one learning style, most exhibit substantial abilities in two or more. The key goal is not to categorize students but to encourage each student to ask, “Who am I as a learner, and how do I learn best?” Once students know how they absorb, process and retain information, they can take control of their own learning. 

Analytical Learners learn best by reading and writing. They like to organize information in a structured way by taking notes, underlining key phrases in a text, and making outlines. Analytical learners do best when teachers provide them with plenty of time to read, write, and analyze their ideas.

Visual Learners learn best when they’re seeing and creating visual images. They thrive when they have opportunities to examine and construct pictures, graphs, maps, charts, diagrams and videos, and they also like to make lists, take notes and doodle. Visual learners do best when teachers supplement words with graphic elements.

Auditory Learners learn best when they can listen, talk, read aloud, discuss ideas with classmates, and ask questions. They prefer lectures and discussions to reading and writing, and they process information by talking about ideas. Teachers can engage their learning style by posing questions and asking students to repeat information.   

Kinesthetic Learners learn best when they’re experiencing or doing things. They like to touch objects, act things out, and play games that involve moving around the classroom. They enjoy hands-on projects, like science experiments and constructing models, and process information by recreating and practicing.

Even when a teaching method doesn’t match a student’s learning style, the student can adapt. During a lecture, for instance, kinesthetic learners can take notes, raise their hands and ask questions, while visual learners can make diagrams and sketches to illustrate the information being presented. Likewise, while memorizing information, kinesthetic learners can pace back and forth or bounce a tennis ball, auditory learners can teach a concept to their parents, and visual learners can draw charts and pictures or go online to construct quizlets that include images.

By identifying, exercising and blending their preferred learning styles with their various intelligences, students will not only absorb and master information more effectively, but they’ll also enjoy the learning process more fully. 

FORGET COLLEGE RANKINGS: SEEK A COLLEGE THAT WILL ENGAGE YOUR UNIQUE ATTRIBUTES

Jami Silver, Director of College Advising

In 2014, the Gallup-Purdue Index Report asked over 1,000 graduates of a wide range of colleges whether they were thriving in five dimensions of their lives – purpose, social, financial, community and physical. To the surprise of many educators, the survey revealed no correlation between the quality of life experienced in each category and the selectivity of the colleges the graduates had attended.

Instead, the study revealed that the greatest predictor of overall success was the level of the student’s engagement in the academic and extracurricular life of the college and in inspiring relationships with professors and mentors.  

These findings were recently summarized and validated in a white paper published by the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. This report, titled “A ‘Fit’ over Rankings: Why College Engagement Matters More Than Selectivity,” concluded, “Students who benefit the most from college are those who are most engaged in their academics and campus communities, taking advantage of the opportunities and resources their particular institution provides.”     

Such deep engagement occurs, the study states, when a student:

• takes courses with professors who make learning exciting and who care about the student personally• finds a trusted mentor who encourages the student to pursue personal goals• works on a project across several semesters• completes an internship that applies classroom learning• participates in meaningful extracurricular activities

The revelation that engagement lies at the heart of the college experience has significant implications for students approaching the college admission process. For them, the question is no longer “How can I gain admittance to the most selective college?” but instead “How can I identify a college that will provide opportunities best suited to my unique passions, preferences, and goals?”

With this priority in mind, here are two productive approaches for students and their families:

 Know Thyself

Rather than assembling lists of colleges, students should instead gather insight into themselves by asking:– Who am I and what do I like to do?– In what types of environments do I thrive?– What have been the best experiences I’ve ever had?– Why did I enjoy these experiences so much?– What does success in life look like to me?

This self-reflection shifts the focus from the college to the student and empowers students to take control of their own college admission process, transforming it into a journey of self-fulfillment and self-exploration.

Extracurricular and summer activities offer especially rich opportunities for such self-discovery. Students can ask themselves:– Why do I like this – or not like it?– Is this something I could see myself doing as a career?– What did I learn about myself by doing this?

Personal Qualities Matter

Aware of the importance of engagement, colleges are seeking students who are passionate about learning and who will immerse themselves fully in campus life. Is the student, for instance, curious, creative, courageous, or fervent about social justice, or mountain climbing, or model trains? These potentials are most evident in the recommendations written by teachers, advisors, and coaches, as well as in students’ personal essays – subjective measures that reveal who a student truly is.
Because engagement in college is such an important key to a happy, successful life, students should initiate the admission process by pursuing a variety of strategies to explore themselves as evolving young adults and then seek colleges that will fully engage their unique interests, talents, and attributes.    

KEEPING OUR DIGITAL DATA SECURE

Dan Bateson, Director of Technology

Kingswood Oxford’s information technology team takes the school’s digital security very seriously. Protecting the personal and professional data of our students, teachers and staff members is our top priority. In fact, the school regards teaching students about digital privacy to be an essential part of their education.   

With that in mind, here are some suggestions for ensuring the privacy of online accounts as well as some current trends in the generation and verification of passwords, recent improvements in their ease of use, and a preview of what could soon be a password-free world.

Determining whether your password has been compromised

During the past year, several major corporations and organizations have revealed massive breaches in their security walls, allowing hackers to acquire the private data of millions of people. You can ascertain whether your online accounts have been violated by visiting the website: https://haveibeenpwned.com/for a free password checkup. Simply enter your email address and you’ll learn whether your data has been hacked, and, if so, which data breaches involved your account and when they occurred. If your email account has been compromised, you should immediately change the password.

How to avoid having so many different passwords

For a nominal monthly fee, several online password management programs lock all your passwords in a digital “vault” with only one password or pass phrase needed to access them. These include 1password.com and lastpass.com. These sites also offer features such as password generation, two-factor authentication, and alerts.

Current standards for creating passwords

The National Institute for Standards and Technology has urged the information technology managers at businesses and non-profit organizations to make passwords as user-friendly as possible and to shift the burden of privacy from the user to the verifier. They want to remove the traditional requirements that a password include a capital letter, a number and a symbol and instead suggest using password phrases, such as combining your favorite food with a favorite childhood memory, such as mediumwellhamburgercampjewell!, which are easier for people to remember. They also challenge the conventional wisdom that passwords should be changed every 90 days. As long as you have no reason to believe your password has been breached, they say, there’s no reason to change it.

When generating a new password, check it against one of several online dictionaries of bad password choices; these include names, birthdays, social security numbers and the classically lazy losers: “password,” “1234” and “ABCD.”  

Security experts are also recommending the elimination of knowledge-based authentication, such as the name of your first pet, high school mascot or favorite movie. The problem with such data, they say, is that someone might be able to use social engineering skills to guess your answers.

What’s the future of passwords?

Information technology engineers are continually devising new ways to make the authentication of online identity more secure yet easier for the user. Some of these promising techniques involve biometrics, such as facial and vein-pattern recognition, fingerprints, and scans of the iris of the eye. New types of risk-based or adaptive authenticity can now evaluate your device, your Internet protocol address, and your online behavior to determine whether other methods of authentication should be used. A platform called Trusona now offers a two-factor authentication system that is password-free. Kingswood Oxford continually monitors these new approaches and will adopt those that offer appropriate and effective ways to enhance the school’s digital security.    

STUDENT-LED DISCUSSIONS – DEVELOPING COMMUNICATORS & CRITICAL THINKERS

Director of Communications and Marketing Jackie Pisani

The goal of Kingswood Oxford’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL)  is exploring new ways of placing students at the center of their own learning. Gone are the days of the teacher-led “chalk and talk,” where students diligently scribble notes from their instructor with little opportunity to reflect and engage with the material. Upper School English teacher Michelle Schloss employed student-led discussions in her junior class for the close reading of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad.
Whitehead’s story is divided into a balance of chapters that focus on the main character and runaway slave, Cora, and chapters that deal with ancillary characters. For this assignment, Schloss asked the students to grapple with the non-Cora-centric chapters. Assigning pairs of students to a particular chapter focused around one character – Cora’s doctor, her mother, even the slave-catcher out to capture her, among others – she provided some guidelines and structure, and let them run the show. Each pair of students were responsible for leading discussion on their chapter for at least 30 minutes.
Crafting “Good” Questions   
Prior to the period that they would lead, Schloss told the students to develop a set of three questions to enable the class to come to a deeper understanding of the chapter. The questions examined character, symbolism, and a possible connection to contemporary life and times.
Great questions are the spark that set the class in motion. They are open-ended, come from a place of genuine curiosity, prompt and inspire discussion, encourage higher level, critical thinking, and empower the responders. Students in this class clarify the difference between “plot,” “critical,” and “essential” questions, making sure to set the bar high for their classmates.

Structure
Schloss suggested the students employ strategies to keep the conversation moving. She offered that they structure their leadership of the class into three parts: an opening task to get the class thinking; a close reading so the class can refer back to the text; and an exit ticket that each student can produce to show their opinion and understanding of the material.

Students Motivating Students

Not all students are forthcoming with their opinions. As they took turns leading class discussion when their assigned chapter came around, Schloss was impressed with the students’ self-awareness and the ways in which they supported each other, regardless of their level of confidence. Some class leaders made their opening task writing-based, so that hesitant classmates could process questions ahead of time, and read from their free-write during the discussion later on. “They would not leave each other hanging. It’s always funny to wait for the awkward silence to break: inevitably, they threw each other a bone, and pair by pair, came up with new ways to engage each other and increase participation,” Schloss said.

Thinking On Their Feet
Schloss was most impressed by how the students reacted in the moment. “What went best in this assignment was ironically an aspect that was not formally assessed. Each pair asked excellent follow-up questions, clarifying their trains of thought and pulling responses out of their classmates. You could tell they that were really actively listening to one another, and the leaders showed great self-control in waiting, rather than immediately sharing their own ideas,” she said. Reflecting upon the class, Schloss felt that she would rework the assignment and make the preparatory requirements more open-ended. “These are smart students. I think they would have come up with this structure on their own,” she said.
Student Ownership
By instituting student-led discussions, Schloss noted that the students’ mid-term assessment on the novel carried notable student ownership. “Since they had some choice about what to write about on the assessment, many students went back to the chapter they were assigned, latched onto something, made new meaning looking back on the novel as a whole, and really owned it.”

YES…AND

Joan Edwards, Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Cultural Competency

As a young person, I became well trained in making choices. From an early age, I can recall being asked to choose between “this” or “that” as I was guided to eat healthy foods, dress appropriately and choose friends wisely. This “either/or” way of thinking was echoed in school and in the world around me as I learned that a person can be moral or evil, a choice can be good or bad, and issues are either black or white. In my world of binary options, things seemed to make sense.

However, as I became more experienced in issues of equity and inclusion, I started to realize the limitations of this way of thinking. In working with young people, I began to see that this “either/or” approach to categorizing their behavior or thinking did not adequately reflect the full spectrum of how they learned, lived and loved.

Now that I am 30 years into my teaching practice and have benefited from training sessions, workshops and collaboration with equity thought leaders, I have begun to appreciate, embrace and practice what’s known as “both/and” thinking, an approach that more effectively responds to the experiences of young people. I have gradually grasped the power of this new way of making sense of the world around me. Most recently, the professional development work we have engaged in at KO has offered me a way to help other educators break out of the deeply-rooted binary system we have all absorbed.

The Equity Guidelines that RE-Center, the Hartford-based organization that conducted our equity work in 2018, powerfully and concisely captures this transition:

Practice Both/AndThinking Invites us to see that more than one reality or perspective can be true at the same time, ratherthan seeing reality as strictly either/or, right or wrong, good or bad, this or that. Using both/andthinking can be very helpful in reconciling differences and conflicts that do not present easy solutions.*

I have shifted . . .         ●from believing that issues of race and ethnicity are either black or white to understanding that they involve a wide diaspora of racial and ethnic experiences and viewpoints; 

       ●from believing that a problem is either good or bad to grasping that a problem can be difficult and an opportunity to think and learn about the issue differently; 

       ●from seeing people as either good or bad to benefitting from seeing them as perhaps both challenging to work with and as an opportunity for me to learn how to best comprehend the communication blocks in our relationships; 

       ●from viewing a person’s political view as either conservative or liberal to making the effort to ask questions in order to fully listen to the spectrum of ideas involved in their viewpoint. Once I get to know the person, I can agree with some elements of their philosophy and disagree with others;

       ●from concluding that the professional development efforts to make our school equitable are either working or not working to realizing that there are both challenging struggles and joyful advances as we learn to be more fair and inclusive.

Breaking my habit of “either/or”thinking is still not easy and not always applicable to every situation, but it has provided me with opportunities to move forward rather than feeling loss and defeat. I have discovered that engaging in “both/and”thinking is an important cultural competency skill that continually needs to be practiced, tested, and refined as I pursue my mission of being a better educator. *Adapted from VISIONS, Inc. 2002 Copyright ©2017. RE·Center Race & Equity in Education. All rights reserved.

HOW COLLABORATIVE LEARNING HELPS STUDENTS FLOURISH

Jackie Pisani, Director of Marketing and Communications

Humans are social beings and yet we, especially in the US, valorize the individual. There’s plenty of stories of the lone genius toiling away to make a miraculous breakthrough in medicine or technology. Although these stories are a testament to the endurance of the human spirit, it only tells part of the story. Remember when Alexander Graham Bell made the first phone call, someone had to pick up the phone on the other end. The point is: no one goes it alone.
As industry becomes more complex, the economy needs individuals who are not only technically bright and capable but more importantly, it requires people with the soft skills and talents to work in teams to achieve a common goal. According to Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith, authors of TheWisdom of Teams,management in organizations of the future will “seek faster, better ways to match resources to customer opportunity or competitive challenge, the critical building block will be at the team, not the individual, level.”
Forbes Magazine noted a recent joint study between the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Rob Cross, Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Business at Babson College that “found that companies that promoted collaborative working were five times as likely to be high performing.” In order for businesses to prosper, companies will seek individuals who thrive in a give-and-take environment and who work well with others.
At Kingswood Oxford, collaborative learning is not just a pedagogical buzz-word but a common practice across disciplines. We’ve found that collaborative learning not only aids in a student’s grasp of the material but helps them develop important social and emotional skills and bolsters a student’s sense of belonging.Deeper Learning

A randomized controlled trial performed in an undergraduate biochemistry course at Columbia University in 2015 showed that the students who worked in groups versus those that worked individually performed equally as well on exams that asked basic recall questions. However, the team-based learning students significantly outperformed the other students when it came to answering questions in which the students had to apply the knowledge learned to a new context.  These “predict questions” required more complex reasoning and problem-solving and asked the students to dig deeper and deduce the answers to a problem. Collaboration provides the ability to solve more complex problems because students are able to share with one another gaps in knowledge, offer different perspectives, and persist through challenging material past the point where they may surrender as an individual.
Negotiating
One student’s Powerpoint might be another student’s Prezi. Everyone comes to a group from a different point of view. By working in teams, students must learn how to give and take in order to build a consensus for the project to be successful.
Leadership
Leaders in groups take all forms. It’s not always the person with the loudest, most persistent voice. Some students find their “power” in setting the pace to motivate the group. Another student may establish the standards for excellence. Everyone has an individual strength to add to the collective.
Time Management
Timing is everything. Knowing that the group is counting on you for a portion of a project makes a student more accountable for their time management. In a world of deadlines, students learn the disciplined action of carving out a schedule, planning effectively, showing up on time and coming prepared to a group meeting.
Empathy
The best work results from groups members who practice empathy. To address a challenge or to tackle a project, the group members must listen to and understand the needs of the other which engender respect. By working constructively together, building trust and developing relationships, students can better share their ideas, test them out and problem solve along the way.  This process increases engagement and understanding of the material.
Cooperation
Modern teamwork requires interdependence, not a top-down approach where one group leader calls the shots.  Open lines of cross-communication are essential in collaborative learning so that the individual and the group are performing well.

RESILIENCE…A SKILL WORTH BUILDING

Carolyn McKee, Interim Director of the Upper School

When I led the Student Life Team at KO, we had many conversations about how we teach resilience and how kids learn it. We asked ourselves whether our school culture values and fosters resilience. And we wondered whether adolescents today were missing out on the opportunity to develop their resilience while still in high school, which is a safe place to make mistakes and to learn, with the support of parents and teachers nearby.

I was reminded of these conversations recently when I came upon an article by Ann Klotz, Head of School at Laurel School in Shaker Heights, Ohio. In it, she addressed the role of schools in helping to teach students resilience. Klotz writes, “If we want them [students] to take responsibility, we have to let them stumble and accept the consequences.” One of KO’s core values is to take personal responsibility. Yet many kids are afraid of stumbling, of making a mistake, of disappointing, and so they avoid taking risks or challenging themselves at all costs. As a result, they miss out on the opportunity to see that, if they own the mistake or acknowledge the challenge, they will get the help or support they need and will learn something important about themselves or about the struggle, and they will grow as a result.

Klotz warns that by rushing in to assist students we might actually be stifling their growth. “If we race in to smooth every bump,” Klotz writes, “we send a message to our children that we don’t think very much of their ability to manage.” And perhaps we foster their dependence on adults to make things better. I know that on numerous occasions I have attempted to take the sting out of a low test grade for a student, to alleviate the disappointment of a player whose error cost the team a point, a game, or a match, or to ease the hurt of an advisee who hasn’t received a coveted leadership position. And perhaps in trying to protect these students, I have failed to help them learn to manage, to cope, to be resilient.

The failure to develop resilience in high school helps to explain the current mental health crises on college campuses. How much of the anxiety that college students experience is related to their inability to employ the necessary coping strategies to deal with the many challenges of living on one’s own, being away from home, and learning in a different (and probably bigger) school environment?

I am certainly not proposing that we create more opportunities for kids to struggle in an effort to build resilience, but rather than identifying and talking about those struggles when they arise and problem-solving how best to address them WITH our students (and not FOR them) can only help better prepare them for college, which is an essential part of our role as educators.

HOW PARENTS CAN MODEL GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP

Debbie Fiske, Director of Athletics

All parents of student-athletes enjoy the excitement, intensity, and pride of watching their children compete on sports teams and cheering their successes in games and matches. Young athletes are always encouraged and heartened to see their parents in the stands rooting enthusiastically for them.

Unfortunately, parents sometimes become so intensely wrapped up in their children’s success that they lose perspective and engage in inappropriate and unsportsmanlike behavior before, during or after games. In doing so, they not only sour the experience of the game for players, coaches, officials and other fans but embarrass their children, themselves and their school.

By disrespecting the sport and its participants, they detract from the true purpose of scholastic athletics: the nurturing of skills, teamwork and resilience and the sheer exhilaration and fun of playing a game.

Drawing on the resources of the Positive Coaching Alliance, The Association for Applied Sports Psychology, and the Minnesota State High School League, I’ve compiled the following tips for parents to guide them as they nurture, encourage and inspire their student-athletes. In General

• Express interest, encouragement, and support to your child and the team.• Learn the rules and strategies of the sport so that you can understand why certain situations take place.• Get to know your child’s coaches and the parents of other team members. Volunteer to help the team in any way you can and lend a hand when you’re needed and don’t be offended if the coach doesn’t take you up on helping.• Teach your child to respect the team’s coaches and to heed their guidance.• If any issue arises with the coach, such as playing time, strategy, or position assignments, encourage your child to talk with the coach rather than intervening yourself. Learning to deal with challenges through self-advocacy is one of the most important lessons sports can teach.• Maintain a light, playful and open-hearted attitude. Be understanding and tolerant of your child’s learning process and celebrate his or her participation and successes. Before the Game

• Tell your child that you’re excited about the game and that you’ll be proud of him or her and the team no matter how well they perform.• Ask your child what he or she is looking forward to most about the game.• Encourage your child to try his or her best no matter how the game goes. During the Game

• Remember that athletics are an extension of the classroom and that players are learning about civility, respect, and courtesy from your behavior during games.• Exemplify good sportsmanship by positive cheering only. Never insult, harass or boo other teams, players, coaches or officials.• Recognize and show appreciation for an outstanding play, achievement, or sportsmanship by either team.• Refrain from yelling at officials or making gestures of displeasure. If you disagree with an official’s call or failure to make a call, be silent. If other spectators criticize officials, politely remind them to show respect for the game and its participants.• Avoid criticizing your child’s coach or offering advice to the coach. Refrain from shouting out specific instructions or strategies to your child or the team. Parental directives diminish your child’s independence and may contradict or undermine directions the coach has given to players.• Do nothing that diminishes the players’ enjoyment of the game. Have fun and enjoy the game yourself. After the Game

• Thank the officials, coaches, and members of the other team for a well-played game. Congratulate the coaches and members of the winning team, no matter which side won. • Tell your child you enjoyed watching the game.• Praise your child for specific accomplishments. Rather than simply saying, “Good game!” instead say, “You made some terrific passes today,” or “Your backhand shots were very strong.”• When talking about the game, rather than offering your opinions or suggestions for improvement, ask your child: “What did you learn from that game? What was your favorite play? What was the most fun part of the game?”• If your child has a rough game, maintain a positive attitude and support system. Tell your child to keep working hard, get back at it, and “Get’m next time.”• Refrain from sharing any reservations you may have about the play of the other team, the officiating, or coaching. Don’t blame disappointing results on the weather, field conditions or opposing fans.

Above all, always show respect for the game, its participants, and yourself. Remember that your child looks to you as a role model of good sportsmanship, fairness, and positivity.

TEN REASONS WHY KO MIDDLE SCHOOLERS THRIVE

Ann Sciglimpaglia, Director of the Middle School

I’m often asked what makes our Middle School the right place for early adolescents. I believe we provide 10 unique qualities that help Middle Schoolers thrive and grow.

• A Cozy Home

Because the Middle School is housed in one building where students can interact in welcoming spaces and find comfortable nooks for quiet study, it provides a home-like environment particularly well suited for active preteens. Students are able to break out of classroom spaces, and teachers are always close by and accessible.

• Nurturing a Love of Learning

Our teachers have created a stimulating curriculum and a vibrant classroom environment specifically designed to engage and motivate Middle School students. Kids fall in love with the teachers, with the content, and most of all with the process of learning. Free of the pressure of building college transcripts, Middle School students take deep dives into authentic experiences, whether it’s a geology field trip to Rocky Neck State Park, writing an in-depth research paper, or immersing themselves in the language, art and music of another culture. 

• Small Classes

Classes of about 12 to 14 students furnish rich opportunities for participation in discussions, group work and one-on-one instruction and allow teachers to know each student well. These family-like classes provide an intimacy and esprit de corps that fosters confidence, risk-taking and friendship.

• An Age-Appropriate Schedule

Class periods of 75 minutes allow students and teachers ample time to explore ideas in depth and engage in extended research, discussions, and hands-on projects. A two-hour break in the middle of the day for sports and lunch provides students with a natural time to release pent-up energy. The order of class meetings rotates on a weekly basis, affording refreshing variations in the daily schedule.

• Supportive Advisors

Each student has a faculty advisor who provides support and guidance in academics, social interactions and personal growth. These advisors become their students’ strongest cheerleaders and advocates. Working closely with students’ families, they regularly furnish parents with information and insights about their children’s progress.  

 Healthy Minds in Healthy Bodies

Instead of taking physical education classes, all Middle School students compete actively on interscholastic sports teams where they learn collaboration, teamwork and athletic skills. Because most teams include students from several grades, athletes are able to expand their skill level as well as their circle of friends

• Co-Curricular Opportunities for Growth

An array of activities, from Model United Nations to Mock Trial to the Athletic Advisory Council, afford many ways for students to be involved in the school community and furnish experience in teamwork, organization, and decision-making. These groups nurture the whole child by developing leadership and negotiation skills.

• Caring Beyond Self

 The Middle School cherishes a rich tradition of helping others beyond the KO community. A student committee takes ownership of this process by selecting three charitable organizations to support with fundraisers and volunteer work each semester. These causes have ranged from animal shelters to cancer research to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

• A Perfect Size

With approximately 150 students, the Middle School is small enough for students to know their teachers, coaches, and advisors very well but large enough to field a variety of sports teams, clubs, and musical and theatrical groups and to furnish students with a wide range of friends.

• Building Independence

Taken as a whole, the Middle School program equips students with the skills, self-confidence, and resilience to succeed at the Upper School. Our students learn to love learning for its own sake and know how to organize and prioritize their academic work, advocate for themselves, and ask for help from adults when they need it. They become independent learners who are unafraid to tackle a challenge in the classroom, on the playing field, or on the stage.