Building confidence, making strides.
Our Middle Schoolers develop in leaps and bounds, progressing rapidly from fixed homerooms to traveling classes and from open cubbies to lockers. Far more important, our 4th-8th Graders make strides toward increasingly sophisticated academic tasks — grappling with complex problems, posing nuanced arguments, and working collaboratively while also learning to increasingly think for themselves.
Holland Hall Middle Schoolers don’t just study the ecology of the sea. They use what they know to create an ocean museum and teach all they’ve learned to their primary school peers. They don’t just memorize physics principles. They use them to build — and race — boats in a cardboard regatta. And they don’t just study global economics. Our Middle School students devise and enact plans to fight inequity and poverty, confronting real-world problems in ways that are frequently audacious, inspiring, brilliant, and brave.
We offer our transformative Middle School experience early, by transitioning our students in 4th Grade — an unusual arrangement that allows younger minds to engage more complex ideas taught by subject specialists sooner. Our unique Middle School building reflects that purpose, a serene, well-ordered space where deep thinking and intent concentration spins naturally out of unvarnished interiors and orderly spaces.
Meet the Middle School Head, Mr. Joel Bicknell.
In the Middle School, you will observe your student grow as a learner as a result of three core beliefs that guide our teachers. First, we value experiential learning because it best develops our students’ active inquiry and critical thinking skills. You will notice this in all grade levels with a focus on teaching through open-ended questions and group projects across all disciplines. Whether it is dissections in science, culture investigations in social studies, peer edits in English and language arts, hands-on application of concepts in math, the immersive environment of our world language classrooms, or the integrated creative process of our music and fine arts classes, our students strive to achieve more than they did the day before.
Second, we value skill-based curricula infused with engaging content because it moves beyond the boundaries of a classical knowledge-based curriculum. We believe if students develop their academic and discipline-specific skill sets, they will be empowered for success as a learner both now and in the future. The flexibility in content allows our faculty the freedom to make meaningful connections between disciplines. These interdisciplinary projects include the annual Cardboard Regatta in 8th Grade, the signature Tulsa Downtown Studies project in 7th Grade, and the Oceans Museum in 6th Grade. Core reading, writing, and math skills sets are scaffolded and integrated across the curriculum throughout the Middle School.
Third, we value learning activities that challenge our students to demonstrate self-control and independence as a learner. Student behaviors that demonstrate these two key indicators of success include the following:
• Coming to class prepared with materials and a growth mindset
• Demonstrating initiative
• Communicating thinking verbally or in writing
• Persevering in problem-solving
• Evaluating/Reflecting on work
• Advocating for self when needing clarification
• Demonstrating a curiosity in the approach to learning
All of our students are at various points on the continuum of mastering these behaviors. We embrace our mentoring role with students who are on their individual journeys with these skills.
While some of our most profound experiences in life happen by chance, great schools do not. The design of our learning experiences is intentional with expected outcomes; yet, it allows for the spontaneity of transformative learning. We are a community of learners that believes in the potential of every child to change the world. We think big. We expect more. We support learners to exceed their own expectations because we have seen the joy on a child’s face when they achieve more than they ever thought possible. And that keeps us coming back for more.
Mr. Joel Bicknell
Middle School Head