This series of posts on the essential components of a Freshman Transition Program is based on ideas found in The Ninth Grade Opportunity: Transforming Schools from the Bottom Up by Scott Habeeb, Ray Moore, and Alan Seibert.
There are many different approaches that one can take to properly transition freshmen into the high school setting. Some school are trying the academy approach
. Because freshman academies have some inherent weaknesses
many schools are going with the departmentalized approach
. Schools transition freshmen on 4x4 block schedules, A/B days, 7 period days, 6 period days, and hybrid schedules. Transitioning freshmen occurs in small schools and large schools, urban schools and rural schools, schools that are struggling and schools that find benchmarks like AYP easy to reach.
The key to successfully transitioning freshmen lies in several essential components. While these components might look different in different schools/communities/classrooms, they all should be present in order to meet the needs of 9th graders.
Each blog post in this series of will focus on a specific example of those essential components.
One of the essential components of a successful freshman transition program - actually THE MOST essential component based on my experience - is teaming your teachers and then creating time for that team of teachers to meet together regularly. (more on creating time for teachers to meet together in a later post)
I have written previously on this site about the importance of teaming - (Here
is a past post, here
is another, here
is a video on the topic, and here
is a video on teams meeting together) - so this post will be fairly short.
When a team of teachers representing at least the core content areas shares a group of students and meets together regularly - preferably daily - then those teachers are better able to meet the needs of 9th graders. There is no more essential component to freshman transition than the teaming of teachers. A teaming model can fit into any master schedule type and any type of school.
When a team of teachers is on top of its game, it is able to:
1. Better communicate with parents.
2. More quickly realize when problems are arising.
3. Grow professionally by sharing and learning from each other.
4. Use similar or even identical procedures in class.
5. Hold students to higher levels of accountability by reinforcing each other's practices.
6. Provide a smaller learning community within the larger high school.
7. Allow parents and students to meet with more teachers at any one time.
8. Encourage each other.
9. Discuss student needs in a productive manner.
10. Teach collaborative lessons when appropriate and if desired.
Simply isolating your freshmen into a wing or academy does not accomplish the above items the way that a team of teachers does.
A team of teachers working together is simply more effective than the same teachers acting as individuals. Teaming empowers teachers. It takes empowered teachers to transition freshmen. No matter what model, school type, or scheduling parameters you use - DON'T FORGET TO TEAM!