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Middle School Learning Studios Create Student Belonging and Agency

Middle school can be a tough transition for some students and a significant influence on their success in high school and beyond. The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) is launching its middle school learning studios series to help schools create spaces that help foster student belonging and agency. 

The learning studios will be held at the Mission Trails Visitor Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 18, Dec. 6, and Feb. 28. Topics will include creating meaningful relationships, fostering student efficacy and agency, and empowering student voice.

“The middle school years are such critical milestones in the lives of students filled with changes in all areas of a student’s life – physical, mental, emotional, and intellectual,” says Bernadette Nguyen, an executive leadership coach in SDCOE’s District School Improvement unit. “The Middle School Studios is an experience designed to support staff who devote their work to serve this unique group of students.” 

Participants will get a glimpse into the experiences that they can create for their students that will increase student sense of belonging. They will walk away from each studio session with a recognition of their inner middle school student, a deeper understanding of the development of the middle school mindset, and strategies that enable them to build and foster meaningful and deep connections with students and between students. They will also have opportunities to have networking time to give and get ideas from colleagues in the field. 

“While there is great recognition that the middle school years play a huge role in student success in high school and college and career,” Nguyen added. “There have been little offerings in the ways of resources and professional learning to equip school staff for their work with middle school students.” 

The studios can accommodate up to 10 school teams and are designed for certificated and classified middle school staff in varied job responsibilities and roles (classroom teachers, counselors, supervision staff, classified main office staff, special education staff, and school administrators).

Participants will share and learn not just from the expert facilitators, but also from each other. The cost is $2,400 for a team of up to six from a school or district to attend all three studio sessions. Individuals can pay $200 for one session or $500 for all three.

Register here.

Questions? Email

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