The Middle School @UNIS: Who We Are
At UNIS, we recognize the true utility of a teacher as facilitator and guide. We maintain a strong commitment to the whole child through proactive guidance, learning lab, and advisory programs, the latter of which ensures that each student is known and understood in a social and emotional context by at least one adult whom we call an advisor.
Based on adolescent, educational, and psychological research, middle level education at UNIS engages students in interdisciplinary learning where teachers and students develop meaningful connections between and among subjects. But this is not something we practice solely with pen and paper, but also in our interactions with each other. Our interactions are based on the community norms and core values we honor and work through every day. The focus of our work with young people in the Middle School is determined more by life lessons and preparation for important academic and social transitions. This means that we view every success and every mistake that a young person makes as an opportunity for them to learn how to do something different, how to use their words and use them better, and how to communicate and connect with peers and adults without judgment and with genuine compassion.
Middle School’s Core Values
The Middle School at UNIS believes that every child deserves freedom within a supportive structure. Our educational philosophy is grounded in eight core values, each of which emanates out of UNIS’ Mission and Guiding Principles. Our Core Values embrace our commitment to the development of character in young people and our belief that a middle level education should address, engage, and respond to the particular intellectual and social interests, passions, and curiosities of young people. In addition to this belief is our commitment to graduating students who genuinely understand, practice, and promote these values in their day-to-day school lives and in their interactions with the larger public outside of the school.
Become self-directed, confident learners that demonstrate initiative, perseverance, and a commitment to intellectual and personal inquiry.
Develop a social, environmental, and global awareness in harmony with the ideals and principles of the United Nations, and demonstrate an interest in and openness to the ideas of others.
Understand individual strengths and areas of development, both academically and socially as a global participant.
Commit to honesty and equity in all thoughts and deeds and to the truth in all decisions and actions.
Demonstrate empathy and understanding toward self and all others.
Honor the freedom and rights of others as well as one’s mental and moral obligation to self, peers, family, community, and world.
Strive to be unafraid of who one is.
Act in the interests of those who are marginalized, unrecognized, and mistreated.
Our core values guide the way in which we design and implement teaching and learning, our support of students outside of the classroom, and our interactions with each other as teachers and learners. From our work to promote self- and social-responsibility in our Advisories to the student-led Student Council, all activities in the Middle School are intentional, purposeful, and deeply embedded in a commitment to building in young people the mental and moral qualities of a self-aware, socially responsible United Nations international student.
Advising groups in the Middle School are comprised of one teacher, an advisor, and a small group of students, all who are in the same grade. Advisors know each of their advisees as people, students, and community members, and they are one of the first points of contact for parents and teachers with regard to the academic and socail life of an individual student.
Advising is also understood as a time, a space, and a place for developing meaningful social practices. In the Middle School advising is:
A space in which connection is the curriculum
A place for student voice and rich dialogues
A time to process individual and community tensions
During weekly advising periods, advising groups focus on five socio-emotional lenses: Identity, Connection, Advocacy, Change, and Acceptance. Tools and techniques are practiced to help students explore their own cultural identity, lives, friendships, relationships, and their social connection and responsibility to self, community and the world. Community circles and reflective expression (e.g., visual, sound, performance, written) are emphasized. The modes and practices of advising extend into our classrooms in order to promote the integration of ideals, continuity of action, and deeper intellectual understanding.