Middle School students at Colorado Academy learn a lot more than academics. An underpinning of Middle School philosophy is building habits that that may seem second nature to adults but can mean the difference between success and failure for young people; habits such as managing time, studying smart, learning to prioritize, understanding how to self-advocate, assuming responsibility, and taking time out and off.
Each week, Middle School students have blocks of time built into their schedules solely for the purpose of practicing these skills. In educational vernacular, it might be described as a “guided study hall,” but at CA, it is how the school builds a safety net beneath each child.
If a student has been absent for a test, needs one-on-one or group help from a teacher, is looking for additional challenges, or just a chance to chat, the support and extension time is set aside four out of every six days on the schedule. Students can put their names on a sign-up sheet to visit a particular teacher, or teachers send out an email requesting that a particular student show up at their door. The Middle School faculty works in concert to make sure students are checking in and following up.
“We recognize how important it is to build an atmosphere of accountability around young people,” says Middle School Principal Bill Wolf-Tinsman. “This is really valuable for students; it catches problems early, minimizes homework headaches, and teaches kids effective habits, including how to find balance in their lives.”
“We recognize how important it is to build an atmosphere of accountability around young people.”
In fact, education research has shown that a guided study hall reduces by half the number of missed homework assignments. A 2008 study at Saint Xavier University in Chicago says those results show that students with these built-in blocks are “more inclined to get their homework completed and may therefore increase students’ understanding.”