Remaking Middle School Learning Series


In this learning series, we explore how educators and other youth-serving professionals can translate the science of young adolescent development to practice.

RMS graphic 300.jpgEarly adolescence (ages 10-15) is a period of tremendous growth, development, and opportunity. How can educators and other youth-serving professionals align their practices with what science tells us about how young people in the middle grades learn and grow? In this series of learning packages, we explore key aspects of young adolescent learning and development through such topics as social-emotional learning, teaching and learning, school climate and culture, and out of school time. Featuring researchers and practitioners from across the country, the packages highlight the science and offer ideas for how to put the science into practice.

Each learning package includes a video (or series of videos), resource guide, and facilitation guide. Whether you are a classroom teacher, counselor, administrator, youth development professional, parent of a middle schooler, or any other person interacting with middle school-aged youth, we hope you will find the learning packages to be helpful in building your understanding of the developmental needs of young adolescents and connecting that understanding to helping young people to grow and thrive during their middle school years.

  • Social Emotional Learning in Early Adolescence

    The Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in Early Adolescence learning package describes three ways educators and youth-serving professionals can promote young adolescent SEL:

    • Prioritize Adolescent Developmental Needs: Early adolescence is a unique developmental period and it is important that students’ interactions and environments are well-designed to meet their needs.
    • Cultivate Youth and Adult Skills: Youth and adults can work to develop and practice skills that promote well-being and strengthen relationships.
    • Build A Learning Community: Strong social and emotional skills do not occur in a vacuum. Educators can build trusting relationships and supportive environments that encourage students to use these skills to be caring, kind, and respectful to others.

    We begin by describing the role that each of these plays in adolescent SEL (and the research findings that underscore their importance). Next, we shift the focus from “why” these are important to “how” each one can be leveraged in the classroom. We provide key strategies and explicit action steps designed to support each area. Alongside these three videos, you will find below an Introductory Guide video, Knowledge Check video, Facilitation Guide for the video series, and Resource Guide.

    The package is led by: 

    • Dr. Shereen El Mallah, University of Virginia School of Education and Human Development
    • Dr. Sara Rimm-Kaufman, University of Virginia School of Education and Human Development
    • Dr. Winsome Waite, The Opportunity Institute

    Introductory Guide


    Prioritize Developmental Needs


    Cultivate Youth and Adult SEL Skills


    Build a Learning Community


    Knowledge Check


    SEL Facilitation Guide & Resource Guide

    Facilitation Guide (PDF): The Facilitation Guide summarizes the content presented in the video series and provides reflection questions for consideration.

    Resource Guide (PDF): The Resource Guide includes supporting resources for each of the videos, including a brief description.

  • Middle Schoolers and Belonging

    The Middle Schoolers and Belonging learning package describes how we can meet the needs of young adolescents with authentic and connected learning.

    In the first video, we explore the role of school belonging in the middle grades. The second video shares strategies designed to foster and support this sense of belonging in students’ learning lives.

    We hope you’ll learn more about why school belonging is important. And we hope you’ll come away with some practical ideas for connecting middle schoolers meaningfully to you, to each other, and to the world around them, in both in-person and remote settings.

    The package is led by: 

    • Dr. Penny Bishop, Professor of Middle Level Education, University of Vermont
    • Dr. Ingrid Grant, Chief of School Leadership, Henrico County Public Schools

    The Importance of School Belonging in the Middle Grades


    Fostering Belonging in the Middle Grades


    Facilitation Guide (PDF): The Facilitation Guide summarizes the content presented in the video series and provides reflection questions for consideration.

    Resource Guide (PDF): The Resource Guide includes supporting resources, including a brief description.

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The Remaking Middle School initiative is an emerging partnership working to build and steward a new collective effort for young adolescent learning and development. Founding partners include the University of Virginia Youth-Nex Center to Promote Effective Youth Development, the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE), the Altria Group, and the New York Life Foundation. We are seeking to ignite conversation, action, and a movement to re-envision and remake the middle school experience in a way that recognizes the strengths of young adolescents and ensures all students thrive and grow from their experiences in the middle grades.