Frequently Asked Questions
Middle school is a time of great transition and opportunity. It can be a time when some students develop key strategies around resilience, grit, and buoyancy, and others can be inspired to move outside of their comfort zone academically and socially. At the same time, middle school can also be a time when students quickly fall off track and feel defeated, especially if they have adverse experiences in or outside of the classroom.
Research suggests that a student’s grades in the ninth grade are the biggest predictor of high school graduation. The Life Navigator Middle School Program was developed to help students build intrinsic motivation around key executive functioning skills during the transitional middle school years, so they are more able to navigate the transition to ninth grade successfully.
The curriculum of the Life Navigator School Program is primarily geared towards grades 6-8; at the same time, we frequently provide coaching for K-5 using allotted general coaching hours, and K-5 teachers will still gain professional development to adapt our model for their respective grades.
³Libby Pier, Heather J. Hough, Michael Christian, Noah Bookman, “COVID-19 and the Educational Equity Crisis: Evidence of Loss From the CORE Data Collaborative,” Policy Analysis for California Education, Jan 25, 2021, https://edpolicyinca.org/newsroom/covid-19-and-educational-equity-crisis.
An advisory-based curriculum, the Life Navigator Program focuses on a train-the-trainer model, using existing staff and administrative structures within the school, and provides additional support in the form of curriculum resources. This model reduces teacher workload, enhances faculty and staff buy-in, and helps ensure long-term sustainability.
The program is also designed to benefit all students. This is important because students who are doing reasonably well in school but need resources to increase the chances of social and economic mobility are often overlooked in current programming initiatives. The Life Navigator School Program celebrates the potential of all students and works to build community and break down social barriers within a school.
The Life Navigator School Program is designed to integrate into existing programming, and the model creates an opportunity for better student engagement. For instance, as students develop better executive functioning skills through this program, they are more likely to be intrinsically motivated because they feel a sense of autonomy (control over their choices), competency (they feel as though they have skills to do the work), and belonging (they feel as though their place within the school community matters).
Finally, the Life Navigator School Program is outcomes-focused. Success comes from students picking up habits around organization, time-management, prioritization, planning and regrouping that will serve them over time.
Initial response and feedback to our programming has been incredibly positive, and we are committed to thoughtful, sustainable, impactful scale and growth. We currently have a waiting list for middle schools and junior high schools interested in being involved. To add your school’s name to the list, please have a school leader or district administrator contact us.
We provide participating schools with:
- Teacher’s Guide with individual lessons plans for each week
- Twice-yearly professional development training for faculty and staff
- Slides for individual lessons to support implementation
- Student handouts
- Adaptations for remote and hybrid delivery
- Activities to develop executive functioning skills and support social-emotional connections
- Family Packet with resources for families
- Parent education resources and opportunities
- Online access to all materials through learning management systems
All student and family resources are available in English and Spanish.
Additionally, schools that participate in the Life Navigator School Program benefit from:
- Needs assessment to observe classroom dynamics and current strategies
- Student presentations and parent education opportunities
- Programming suggestions for follow-up parent-student night
- Regular check-ins between the grade level leads and the Life Navigator coach
- Follow-up school visits throughout the school year
- Strategies for data collection and implementation
Any school looking to partner with Luminaria will undergo an initial needs assessment to better understand the school climate and essential areas for support. The Life Navigator School Program is currently designed as a 3-year implementation plan with a sustainer coaching model that allows for continuous feedback, support/resources, and adaptations as needed.