California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II

Recommendation Four


Powerful teachers are strengths-based and student-centered. They use students' own experiences, strengths, interests, goals, and dreams as the beginning point for learning, competence, and accomplishment. Thus, they tap students' intrinsic motivation, their existing, innate drive for learning.1

Recommendation 4 — Relevance. Meet the needs of middle grades students by developing a rich set of courses and enrichment opportunities that infuse learning with technology, visual and performing arts, career/real-world connections, service- and project-based learning, and multicultural experiences. Engage students as lifelong learners by developing socially relevant cross-curricular understanding and opportunities for meaningful participation before, during, and after school.

Relevance is one of the Recommendations in the Focus Area on Developmental Responsiveness.

The recommendation on relevance is the first of five under developmentally responsive and socially equitable practices. High-quality middle schools respond to the developmental and academic characteristics and needs of young adolescent learners. Who are these students? Why are they different from elementary school students and high school students? How do educators make learning relevant to this age group, establish nurturing relationships (refer to Recommendation 5—Relationships), and smooth not only the transitions from school to school (refer to Recommendation 6—Transitions) but from childhood to adulthood fairly and safely while building character and resilience? (Refer to Recommendation 7—Access, and Recommendation 8—Health, Safety, and Resilience.)


Recommendations for Success Index

1Bonnie Benard, “Resilience, What We Have Learned,” in Third Space: When Learning Matters, Washington, D.C.: Arts Education Partnership, 2005, 65.

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