Dear Students and Parents of UNIS Hanoi Middle School,
It is with great pleasure that we welcome everyone back for our 2018-2019 school year! In order to assure a positive start, we thought we would share with you some of the initiatives that we are going to be rolling out with the Middle School students this year.
As a MS staff we have been identifying areas to improve the student experience and support positive student approaches to learning. The following three areas have been decided by consensus of Middle School teachers and Administrators.
Our first area of concern was the size and weight of student backpacks and the resulting detrimental impact on their back muscles and spines. In order to help with general student well-being and health we are asking students to leave their backpacks in their lockers during school. This not only avoids the strain of carrying unnecessary items around all day, but also promotes organizational skills and a “readiness to learn”. Students can go to their lockers at passing times, morning break, and at lunch to retrieve the materials they need for various classes, i.e. “pens/pencils/calculators”.
Cell phones are also to remain in lockers during school. Many studies show how digitally distracted young people (and adults as well) have become due to having their device with them 24/7. We want our focus to be in the classroom and around learning. Students can go to their lockers at passing times, morning break, and at lunch and be able to check their messages, if necessary. In the case of an emergency, please feel free to contact the new Middle School Office (+84 24 7300 4503).
During our break times and at lunch we will focus on human interaction and physical wellness. This means that students should not be on their computers, unless engaged in our “Study Stop” or working with a teacher.
Middle School teachers and staff understand that these are changes from previous years and will work with students during orientation and in the early weeks of this year to help everyone understand why we’ve made the changes and to guide this cultural shift. Student voice will come into these areas as we plan to monitor the impacts and gauge the pros and cons throughout the first quarter.
Here is a good article on digital distraction from Harvard that discusses the use of both cell phones and of laptops in class. This article from a teacher’s perspective is also worth a read, and draws from a recent book by Gazzaley and Rosen called The Distracted Mind.
Thank you for your support at home to reinforce these initiatives.
Wishing you a great start to the year!
The Middle School Staff and Administrators