An Introduction to Intentional Educational Design

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” – C.S. Lewis

In alignment with The First Academy’s Christ-centered, college-preparatory school, the Middle School is focused on preparing its students for college and an adult life of Christian leadership.

The First Academy’s Middle School is specifically designed with the “middle school learner” in mind.  The importance of each student taking responsibility for his/her learning is foundational and interwoven throughout the instructional design and the educational organization.   We thoroughly enjoy the Middle School student and the whimsical and emotional characteristics that require creative, collaborative and enthusiastic instructors for optimal learning, retention and application of knowledge.  The classrooms are designed with interactive wireless Apple technology and interactive “Write Walls” which promote movement and engagement of the students.  It is the continual goal of the educational and environmental design to facilitate the joy of learning and independence among the middle schoolers.

The students new to TFA Middle School are provided the opportunity to meet with the principal and the MS administrative team prior to the beginning of the school year.

The initial questions of the “student-centered meeting” include a) “What college/university are you interested in attending? b) What talents and strengths do you think God has gifted you with? c) Have you thought of a career that will enable you to utilize your gifts?  Most rising 7th grade and 8th grade students have not spent a tremendous amount of time thinking about the answers to these question. That is exactly why they are the leading questions.  It is at this time in the meeting that the student is reminded of TFA’s unique mission.  A general overview of what is required for college admission is provided to the student.  The three components of the standardized college readiness examinations are discussed along with the intentional educational design TFA middle school utilizes to provide each student the opportunity to demonstrate competence within the areas.  Students are informed of why TFA implements the PSAT in eighth grade.  They are also informed why Mathematics is important and what TFA Middle School requires to enhance the learning experiences.

When students understand the reason why home practice in the areas of Mathematics, Language Arts & Writing are beneficial, they are more willing to embrace the intellectual exercises. The students quickly realize that TFA’s Writing Across the Curriculum mandate is simply part of the larger plan to provide additional writing experiences for them in an effort to help them become more prepared for college and for communicating the defense of their faith.

Students are provided with the reasons why they need to ask questions and the types of questions they should begin asking.

The best place to learn course material is in the classroom with the professional educator.  The teachers are available to assist students throughout the school day.

Students are encouraged to schedule meetings with their instructors before school, during Royal Recharge, during Lunch, and After School when questions or concerns arise.

Students are informed that their parents have completed Middle School and are not required to repeat it.  They will need their parents to help them in the ever-changing social, emotional, physical, and spiritual growth needs.

The professional educators provide a course syllabus to each student during the first week of school that details significant assessments and projects and their due dates for the entire school year.  The dates of tests are uploaded to RenWeb two weeks prior to ensure the student is aware of the upcoming assessment and is given the opportunity to adequately prepare.   This information is provided specifically to enable the individual student to begin to further develop his/her organizational skills and to “own” his or her learning.   It is the Middle School student’s responsibility to find out what academic work needs to be completed and to submit it when it is due.

Although learning is fun; it can also be exhausting and sometimes frustrating.  Encouraging students to continue working on finding solutions to problems even when the work becomes difficult is an important part of the educational plan specifically designed to assist the students in reaching their goals.

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. –Albert Einstein

We want to facilitate an educational environment that encourages students to continually learn within and outside the parameters of the school day; we want to strengthen their intellectual stamina as they renew their minds.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will(Romans 12:2)