"The work that we do creates positive disturbances or positive movement in our students’ lives and in our communities. We seek change in our society; the status quo is not acceptable. We seek to be agents of beneficial change for our children and the communities we serve. Most importantly, we strive to instill in our children the awareness that they are gifted and have a responsibility to share their gifts and thereby make a difference in their lives and the lives of others."
Providing The Educational Opportunities That Change Lives
Why Are the Corridors So Quiet Between Classes?
When adults walk through the hallways of Making Waves Academy, they often say that the atmosphere is calmer, the students are more focused on learning, and the facilities are cleaner and in better shape than at other middle schools they have visited. Children are polite and communicate at Voice Level 0 (pure silence) when changing classes. Students are taught how to live up to the school’s core values. They are expected to focus diligently on school work, take responsibility for their actions, and show respect to peers, adults, and property.
Creating a school environment that is free of disruption and conducive to learning does not happen by accident. It requires:
- Establishing high expectations for students, parents, and staff members so that there is accountability on every level.
- Providing ongoing teacher support that focuses on the emotional, social, and professional needs of staff members and respects and allows them to work as professionals. Educators have an average of 90 minutes per day to devote to professional learning, collaboration, and reflection. Educators work as mentors and coaches and share knowledge. They work together to review data and examples of student work. Before the school year begins, the school devotes three weeks of time to curriculum and lesson plan preparation.
- Focusing on the assets students bring. Often teachers come into schools serving underserved populations thinking that children are broken and need fixing. Our teachers respect what students are capable of doing. They view themselves not as saviors, but as professionals entrusted with the responsibility of developing young people.
- Hiring highly qualified and entrepreneurial leaders, teachers, and staff members who don’t need to work from established patterns, but create new approaches that meet the needs of students.
- Employing a Dean of Students and counselors dedicated to resolving conflicts among teachers and students as they emerge, using them as learning opportunities.
- Creating strong administrator/teacher relations that allow staff members at all levels to offer constructive criticism to improve the program.
- Establishing regular opportunities for teachers to take leadership on everything from reading interventions for English Language Learners to social wellness.
- Developing a level of trust among students, faculty, parents, and administrators to foster cooperation to achieve the mission of the school.
“Each day, from moment to moment, we create the culture of the school,” says Jeeva Roche-Smith, head of Making Waves Academy. “We are intentional about why we do something, how we are going to do it, and what that will look like in practice.”