A Very Busy Week Ahead

GMS Daily Notices

Did you know that could check the Daily Notices anytime you want just by going to the GMS web page and clicking on the Daily Notice in the navigation bar on the left hand side of the page.

Here you will find all of the most up-to-date information about what is happening at the Middle School for the next couple of weeks. You will also find lots of information about clubs and other activities that are forming as well as District events coming up.

Sports Physicals

The Sports season is about to begin with practices starting on Monday, September 10 after school. If you remember, we talked about students needing current physicals in order to play, or even tryout for a team. Physicals must be current within the last two years, if you are unsure if your child has a current physical, you can call the office and we can let you know what we have on file.

6th Grade Laptops

One of the most exciting things about coming to the Middle School, among the many exciting things about coming to the Middle School, is getting your very own laptop computer for the first time. And, for the past 3 years we have been able to accomplish that with the old G4 laptops from the last distribution of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) program. In other word, these computers are 8 years old and have become very fragile. They are “dying off” at am alarming rate and we do not have enough working laptops to give one to every student this year.

We have devised a plan to put the devices that are working to good use however, so all students will be exposed to technology in math classes and have technology available in other classes as well.

We expect this to be only for this year as the MLTI program will be distributing new devices to 7th & 8th graders next year.

Bullying and Harassing Behaviors

Try this. Do a Google search for “Bullying Behaviors in Schools” and you will be shocked by the quantity of the results, 13,300,000 results in just .29 seconds! The top results (and I expect that the number grows by the minute) are usually newspaper articles about the most recent events in Bullying, some are tips for parents and most include some sort of video about bullying. What I am trying to say is that this is one of the most discussed topics for parents of children, especially in middle school, as we begin the new school year.

I wish I could say that it does not exist at Gorham Middle School, but, sadly, that would be a lie. We do have students who take some sort of undefinable pleasure in making life horrible for their classmates through the use of words or actions.

For all of the reasons that you will find in all of the articles from the above Google search, we also struggle with getting a handle on these types of behaviors, but I can promise all of you it is not for lack of trying!

Last year, in this space, I posted several videos from the television series Dateline: My Kid Would Never Bully. Those videos put several students into situations that absolutely occur in school (sadly, yes at GMS as well) and other social settings with actors playing the role of the bully and the victim and the unsuspecting “real” students in the role of bystanders. Also, the producers of the show had cameras and microphones hidden throughout the room with the parents of the bystanders watching backstage. The results were very interesting, to say the least.

In this video, the situation is a gymnasium with the “real” students thinking they are competing for a spot on a TV series. Remember, the coach, the bullies and the victim are all actors.

I think this video displays, quite well  the role the bystanders can play in bullying situations. It also demonstrates the impact the behaviors have on not just the target of the bullying behavior, but on all those present. If the bully feels that his behavior is supported by the bystanders, then the behavior will continue and even become more bold. But, if the bystanders don’t show support, or even if they just show support for the victim, it can diffuse the power of the bully and shift the power to the victim. So, a bystander needn’t face the bully directly, just offering support for the victim can be enough to stop the behavior.

Checkout this video where one of the bystanders play very important roles in this scene.

Both of these clips show just how difficult it is to be a kid in these kind of situations with very little experience in how to deal with some very forceful personalities.

The Middle School has taken a very proactive approach to bullying behaviors, but as these video show, it takes more than the fear of punishment to change behaviors of some kids. We will continue to be proactive and we plan to hold several evening sessions with parents to become more effective in dealing with bullying behaviors. I do hope that you will join us in these efforts. Our first session will be Thursday, October 11 in the GMS Library at 6:30 pm and, yes, refreshments will be served.

It Is NECAP Time Again

Beginning on Monday, October 1, we will administer the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) Reading and Math assessments to all 6th, 7th and 8th grade students, and the writing assessment to all 8th grade students. This is the 3rd year we have been using the NECAP as a replacement for the Maine Educational Assessment (MEA). The NECAP is very similar to the MEA and it is a common assessment with students from the states of Maine.New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island.

We have asked all teachers to limit homework and classroom level tests during this time, so that our students can focus on these assessments. The results of these assessments are what are used to determine whether schools and districts achieve Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in accordance with the federal No Child Left Behind Law of 2001.

We will also be offering some during this time by offering students chances to win things like popcorn passes and ice cream passes from our cafeteria and gift certificates to GHOP.

This is important information that we use to determine areas of strengths and weaknesses in our curriculum, longitudinal data on the progress of whole classes and how well our students can face the challenges of high stakes testing (not that that is really important!)

What we would ask of the parents is to make sure that your child gets a good night sleep and has something to eat before coming to school, if possible. We definitely try to “low key” these assessments with the students, but, if we have to take them, we may as well do the best we can!

 

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