Top Three Ways an RMS Middle School Student is Different

     They cultivate meaningful relationships regardless of “popularity.” We have a small population in the middle school classroom. While we maintain a superb teacher-student ratio (1:5) of course we would like others to join our program. Here is why: we are doing it right, and we want more young people to benefit from our program. RMS kids learn to create meaningful relationships with everyone regardless of their differences and can explore their identities and relationships without being labeled by others. This comes from spending so much time together, and sharing a space and common experience. Our kids troubleshoot interpersonal conflicts with peacefulness in mind. Like a family on a road trip: we learn to tolerate, celebrate, and enjoy our company.

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    They reflect on their mistakes and respond to feedback. Can you close your eyes and imagine what a sulking pre-teen looks like? I bet you can. As fragile identities are being formed, criticism can create chaos. RMS middle school students have learned about Growth Mindsets, and realized how human it is to fail and how human it is to learn. Their failures don’t label them as failures. They are confident in this. Their failures are opportunities, gifts from their experience. Sure, they realize that sometimes the gift can be tedious to endure, like a puppy that needs potty training, but RMS kids are nurtured to persevere, supported to see critique and feedback with a positive attitude.

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    They are “a part of” and “apart from” the world. Caught in between the worlds of childhood and adulthood, adolescents thirst for freedom and independence before our modern world has created a purpose and a place for them. RMS kids sit more comfortably in this space, creating a noble purpose in their local community and practicing the skills the world will require. Their awareness of their work is what sets them apart. As much as they may or may not enjoy “what other teens like,” they can see value in spending their time thinking of making toddlers’ and children’s lives better, thinking of world crises, and learning the skills they will need in the future. They walk about the building practicing their adulting, aware of their role and responsibility as leaders for the younger students, they hold interesting conversations with teachers and move with purpose, no need for a hall pass. They are aware. They can see what is important to themselves and others. They are prepared.

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