Working together to transition freshmen & transform schools from the bottom up!
So you survived a school year - hopefully, you thrived instead of merely survived - and made it to summer. This fall a whole new batch of freshmen will enter your school, and your Freshman Transition Program (FTP) needs to be ready to meet their needs and support them through this often difficult transition. Is there anything you should be doing this summer?
The summer can play a crucial role in the long-term sustainability of your FTP - regardless of your model. It's when you bring new team members up to speed, give all involved teachers an opportunity to provide input, use your past experiences to shape your future, and build consensus around standardized expectations.
For the sake of this discussion, I am going to refer to those teachers as members of Freshman Teams. (The benefits of teacher teams has been described in several blog posts on this site and in my book on Freshman Transition entitled The Ninth Grade Opportunity: Transforming School from the Bottom Up.) Even if your school does use a teaming model, the ideas in this post should apply to your program.
Best practice includes bringing all Freshman Team teachers together for at least 1 day each summer. There are several things that should be done during this time:
The end goal of this process is to reach consensus. Whatever the group decides is standardized stays standardized during the school year unless the entire group decides to change it. One teacher may not unilaterally stray from the consensus reached during the summer.
This participatory and democratic process allows the team teachers to have ownership of the FTP. It allows even brand new teachers to step into positions of leadership and have their voices heard. This is much more effective than having an administrator tell the teachers what the administrative team has determined.
Another benefit to this process is that it can be completely run by the teachers themselves. Therefore, as administrators come and go, if this process is in place the FTP can remain solvent for years to come.
The school year is over and a new one is just around the corner. Make the most of your summer so you'll be able to keep improving your ability to meet the needs of freshmen. Your mission is vital to the success of your school culture!
For questions about Freshman Transition or to schedule a workshop, feel free to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 540-389-2610. You can also follow me on twitter at @scotthabeeb.