In Providence, Rhode Island, teachers and administrators are discovering that easing the transition to middle school encourages skills that help students prepare for high school.
At West Broadway Middle School in Providence, Principal Bill Black is becoming a YouTube star. Each week, he posts a video shot from his kitchen called “Sundays with Bill”, which contains announcements and reminders for teachers about school rules. Recently, he opened with Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” He told teachers “I know you won’t back down. I know how hard you advocate for your kids every day.”
West Broadway and other schools in Providence are working to make middle schools more student friendly, and Black’s videos are just part of the effort. As students move from small, nurturing environments to larger buildings where they change classes, the transition can be difficult.
“This is where students disengage,” Black said. “This is where they get lost.”
In Providence, administrators are trying to flip the experience making middle schools feel more like elementary schools, while they guide students to become more self reliant.
“We’re planting the seeds for high school,” Black said. “We’re helping kids learn how to collaborate. We’re teaching them to make more decisions for themselves.”