MCGUIRE: Family groups at Reed City Middle School
By Dean McGuire
Reed City Middle School Principal
“Both research and common sense tell us many of the problems among today’s students are rooted in the fundamental desire of individuals to belong to a group a group where they are depended on, respected, and supported.” (Oregon Department of Education, May 2000)
“In a society of increasingly fractured family units, many students have to face their academic, social and emotional problems on their own. Advisory groups create extended families, where students can consistently find peer support and caring, responsible adults.” (Dale,1995)
Research tells us our students need more than reading, writing and arithmetic. At Reed City Middle School, our team has created “family groups” and every student is a member of a school family. Each teacher or counselor at the middle school has approximately 17 students in his or her family group.
These “family groups” have three main purposes: First, it provides each student with a sense of belonging. It would be great if every student belonged to an extracurricular team or group, but that isn’t the case. We are trying to create that special “group” for all students. In addition to students belonging to a group, family groups give all students an adult advocate. Students are in the same family group, with the same adult, from sixth through eighth grade. Our adult family leaders are able to build strong relationships with our student body. Lastly, it gives our students a voice. Our students are able to share ideas, concerns and help develop plans to improve the way we conduct our business at RCMS.
Currently, our family groups meet for 45 minutes 12 times per month. Students eat lunch with their family groups and discuss a variety of topics. Those topics include: bullying, random acts of kindness, leadership, goal setting, making good choices/decisions and community service. We also use our family groups for track and field day, winter Olympics, community service and positive behavior competitions.
With all the challenges facing today’s middle school students, we feel it is very important for our students to belong to a group where they have a voice and are supported by a caring adult.