Building a Productive, Safe, Caring and Inclusive Middle School Community 

How can we build a productive, safe, caring, and inclusive community? During Middle School orientation in early September, students unpacked and explored this question. We know that a sense of community is important at all levels of school, but it's perhaps most important in middle school, when adolescents are wrestling with questions of independence, identity, belonging, and peer groups. Welcoming students into conversations about how we can all shape a positive community is essential towards creating a sense of shared responsibility. During orientation students reflected on this through the lens of our school Code of Conduct--Respect Yourself, Respect Others, Respect the Environment. Out of those conversations and activities came our grade-level Expectations. 
The first draft of these Expectations came in the form of a pile of notecards filled with students' brainstormed scribbles. This initial collection of student ideas was vital for both writing the final Expectations and getting student buy-in. Further conversations and drafts followed until we had crafted a set of Expectations for each grade level. They provide a clear framework for conversations and actions that help our Middle School develop and build a productive, safe, caring, and inclusive community.