Self Discovery in Middle School

McLean School’s dynamic Middle School Program is a safe, caring, nurturing environment where students in grades 5-8 thrive academically, emotionally, and socially. Students leave our Middle School as accomplished, confident students, who understand themselves and how to self-advocate, ready for our college-preparatory Upper School Program.

Why do students find success in our Middle School?

  • We keep things incredibly small to ensure a personalized learning experience for each student. The average class boasts a 9:1 student-to-teacher ratio with some classes as small as 5 students. 
  • Our unique Abilities Model® calls on us to see students first for what they can do, rather than for what they can’t. 
  • Every child has a Student Learning Profile℠ providing a customized list of strategies, as well as a checklist that specifies the student’s individual strengths and challenges gleaned from testing and teacher feedback.
  • Our faculty is a well-trained team of professionals. Nearly all teachers in grade 5 and 6 have a degree, license, or background in Special Education, which allows them to meet a variety of learning needs within our homeroom model. In our departmentalized grades 7 and 8, we have content experts that understand best practices and pedagogy for working with all learners.
  • Our homeroom teachers and advisors meet daily with their students utilizing and expanding on elements of the Responsive Classroom and Development Designs Advisory Guide curriculum. These promote community building. 
  • We both accelerate and support. We know that just because a student may struggle with written expression doesn’t mean they will encounter the same challenges in math. Students are placed in classes tailored to their strengths and challenges, and we embed support within the classroom. Middle School students have access to Upper School courses when appropriate. 
  • Executive functioning instruction and support is part of all of our classes.
  • We have woven Mindfulness throughout our curriculum because research proves it reduces stress and improves focus and learning. 
  • We have fun! Our wide sports offerings, STEM and robotics clubs, visual arts and theatrical performances, and our weekly clubs for a variety of groups connect students with others around shared interests in and out of the classroom. 
  • Our students feel respected and safe. Underlying our entire Middle School program is a program called P.R.I.D.E. (Positive Interaction, Respect/Responsibility, Individual and Community Safety, Decision Making, and Empathy). In a recent survey, 91% of parents indicated that their child’s self-esteem increased after starting school at McLean.

Middle School Support Q & A

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • What kind of support can the Middle School offer my child?

    Students benefit from an individualized Student Learning Profile, while simultaneously learning to take increased ownerships of their learning, as is developmentally appropriate. Teachers implement the individualized strategies and accommodations recommended for each student, in their regular classroom setting. The Middle School Learning Services Team includes a Coordinator of Learning Services, Reading Specialist, Math Specialist, Speech-Language Pathologist, Coordinator of Social-Emotional Programming and Counselor.
  • How will the Middle School Learning Services team support my child?

    • Additional personnel that focus on math, reading, writing, executive functioning, and social-emotional needs
    • Integrated, push-in support
    • Work with students in small groups 
    • Serve as resource to families
    • Attend weekly meetings to share insights, observations, and develop strategies to support students
  • What academic support is provided in the Middle School?

    • Trained, expert teachers with skills to support varying learners
    • Multi-sensory and multimodal approaches
    • Interactive, meaningful, creative, and engaging lessons
    • Integrated support from a team of specialists 
    • Differentiation in each group to meet students’ learning needs
    • Fluidity in small groups so that students are appropriately supported and challenged as progress is made
    • Access to accelerated courses in both the Middle and Upper School when appropriate
  • What social/emotional support is provided in the Middle School?

    • P.R.I.D.E. (Positive Interaction, Respect & Responsibility, Individual & Community Safety, Decision, Making, and Empathy) Program is a positive behavior management system 
    • P.R.I.D.E. Matters course in Grades 5/6 teaches skills for developing and demonstrating character strengths such as empathy, responsibility, self-control, and leadership
    • Good Morning McLean Advisory Program for Grades 7/8, creates a sense of community and safety to allow for constructive social-emotional learning and exploration of progressively more complex topics relevant to the daily life of a middle school student
    • Coordinator of Social-Emotional Programming develops and implements a pro-social curriculum with emphasis on our Personal Skills and Attributes
    • Daily division-wide goals to reinforce safety, kindness, and responsibility
    • P.R.I.D.E. banners are awarded throughout the day as positive reinforcement
    • Counselor-facilitated small group discussions to help strengthen relationships
  • What is the difference between a traditional Learning Specialist role and Coordinator of Learning Services?

    Learning SpecialistCoordinator of Learning Services
    Pulls students out of the classroom during academic periodsSupports students in peer groups in the classroom  
    Only works with students with disabilitiesWorks with all students
    Serves as the “expert” of LD on the teamCollaborates with highly skilled teachers, Specialists, and families in a parternship
    Is the sole provider of extra supportCommunicates and coordinates supports from team of providers (support team, outside supports, parents, teachers)
    Focuses on remediation and catching a student up to grade-levelFocuses on working with the team to meet students where they are and moving them forward
    Sole person collecting information about a student’s needs and documenting support in a fileMonitors and updates digital Student Learning Profiles (SM), including teacher insights, which are shared with Learning Services team from grade to grade

K-12 College Preparatory School Supporting Bright Students’ Individual Strengths and Challenges.

McLean School is an independent, co-educational, K-12 day school serving Maryland, Washington, and Virginia. McLean has for over sixty years been helping students realize their full potential by providing a comprehensive college preparatory program that emphasizes small classes and differentiated instruction. We embrace both traditional learners and ones with mild to moderate learning challenges – dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADHD, and challenges related to anxiety and executive functioning. Many of our students excel in some areas while benefiting from support in others.
8224 Lochinver Lane, Potomac, Maryland 20854  301.299.8277