The videos are organized according to the 16 characteristics described in This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents. The richness of each characteristic is illustrated through five or six video clips, each showing a cultural characteristic or middle grades practice in one of the schools. Every video clip weaves scenes, interviews, and narrative to highlight how that school implements practices to exploit its strengths and best meet its students' needs. Because schools are tapestries of culture and practices, some video clips appear in more than one place online.
We encourage you to carefully consider the complexity of each characteristic as described in This We Believe as you watch each video clip. Be prepared to look at each cultural characteristic or each practice from your own vantage and experience as well as from the different contexts of the schools presented in the videos. While no short video clip can fully demonstrate the richness with which a school implements middle school practices and nurtures a healthy culture, it is our hope that each clip will unveil new perspectives to assist you in your work.
The videos and book are complementary and interdependent. The eight schools that have been filmed are different from those referenced by any chapter authors. Pictures and quotes from the videos are placed in appropriate places with identifying information to assist the reader in reviewing the related video clip(s). Our goal is to offer many examples, in the hopes that you will find yourself and your students in these pages and images, and consider new possibilities.
There is no one right way to use this book and videos. Use them in whatever way best fits your needs or interests. You may want to just explore the text and videos at first to get a feel for the materials, to view several video segments, or to see how pictures and quotes from the videos relate to the text. You may want to choose a starting point based on
- Personal interest or known collective interest of the staff
- Priorities, highlighted in the school improvement plan
- Reaffirming and building on known strengths.
Following are some general suggestions for how to use This We Believe in Action for professional development:
- Staff members read a particular chapter prior to a meeting and together view and discuss one or more video segments on that characteristic. Over the course of future meetings, faculty reviews other segments.
- Use one or two video segments and then follow up by reading the appropriate chapter before gathering for discussion, either at the next meeting or in teams.
- Small teams meet for preliminary discussion around a specific characteristic, then view the video segments as a larger staff.
- Study the opening chapter on middle grades reform and the concluding chapter on lessons learned; both warrant study and discussion, individually and by teams or faculty.
- To further enrich learning, use complementary material from This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents. For example, staff members come to a session having read a chapter from This We Believe in Action. Staff views video segments as a group, then follows up by examining the corresponding material from This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents, with subsequent discussion.
Readers should quickly recognize that This We Believe in Action
is not just another good book worth reading; it is rather a unique and rich resource like no other, a very functional tool that can assist in implementing more fully the research-supported middle school concept. Exploit its manifold possibilities—for the sake of our young.