Because student success relies on a blend of good relationships, social skills, and engagement with learning, Developmental Designs comprehensive practices integrate social and academic learning. Teaching and learning are weakened by misbehavior, lack of a safe, inclusive community, and student apathy. The practices in the Developmental Designs approach are designed to meet adolescent needs by addressing these key elements of effective teaching.
The Developmental Designs approach helps teachers:
- Meet middle level students’ needs Developmental Designs structures are designed to meet adolescents’ needs for autonomy, competence, relationship, and fun. Students genuinely enjoy school. They feel connected, heard, empowered, and safe, and academic engagement increases.
- Use developmentally appropriate practices and content Intellectual, physical, social-emotional, and identity elements of adolescent development frame the Developmental Designs approach and bolster the effectiveness of its implementation.
- Build social-emotional skills Students practice seven key social-emotional skills every day: Cooperation, Communication, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, Engagement, and Self-control.
- Rigorously respond to rule-breaking Structures are introduced to students early in the year and carefully maintained, reducing misbehavior. When students break rules, Developmental Designs helps teachers notice and understand what’s happening and use appropriate language and Developmental Designs structures to address the situation.
- Motivate students to achieve academically Students are motivated to learn when they have choices, when their learning is scaffolded and varied, and when they see the point. Developmental Designs uses reflection to involve students in assessment for learning.
- Intervene with struggling students When a student begins to falter, teachers look for solutions across each of the three big focus areas: community-building, social and emotional skills-building, and motivating instructional practices, improving the chances of successful intervention.
- Create inclusive learning communities In a Developmental Designs classroom, all voices are heard. Balanced participation by all students is encouraged at all social and academic learning times. Daily practices help break down cliques and eliminate bullying through emphasis on knowing and valuing all students in all classes, and through problem-solving structures.
- Build a strong, healthy adult community Staff that know and trust each other are critical to academic success for students. DD practices extend beyond the classroom to staff meetings, team meetings, and peer coaching.