Essential Components of a Freshman Transition Program - Part 2 - Making Time for Teams to Meet

This was originally on The Freshman Transition Network.

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.

As stated in the first post in this series, the most essential components of a successful freshman transition program are teaming your teachers and then creating time for that team of teachers to meet together regularly. That post then went on to describe what teachers are able to do when they are teamed. This post will deal with creating time in the master schedule for teachers to meet.

When exactly teachers will meet will be a function of your school's master schedule. The goal is to have teachers meet together as often as possible (preferably daily) and for as low a cost as possible. From my experience, the schedule type that best lends itself to teaming and to teams meeting together is a 7 period day during which teachers teach 5 periods, have a planning period, and have a duty period. In such a system, the teachers would teach 5 teamed classes, have a personal planning period, and use the duty period to meet as a team. Here is an example of this type of master schedule. This example includes 3 lunch periods but could obviously be adjusted.

Here is how teaming might fit into other master schedules:

4x4 Block Schedule
Each team teacher teaches 3 teamed classes per semester.
The team teachers have their planning block at the same time.
Half of the planning block is spent meeting together daily.
The other half of the planning block is devoted to personal planning time.

A/B Block Schedule (alternating days)
Each team teacher teaches 3 teamed classes per semester.
The team teachers have their planning block at the same time - but probably only on alternating days.
Half of the planning block is spent meeting together daily.
The other half of the planning block is devoted to personal planning time.

6 period day:
Each teacher teaches 5 teamed classes for the entire year.
The team teachers have their planning period at the same time.
The team of teachers either meets together everyday for a portion of the planning period or every other day for all or the majority of the period.

7 period day where teachers teach 6 periods:
Each teacher teaches 6 teamed classes for the entire year.
The team teachers have their planning period at the same time.
The team of teachers either meets together everyday for a portion of the planning period or every other day for all or the majority of the period.

Does your school have a different type of master schedule? If you would like to discuss how team planning could fit into your schedule, please feel free to describe your situation in a comment to this blog post so that others can give you some ideas.

Here's what is essential to keep in mind:
A team of teachers can meet the needs of freshmen better than teachers acting as individuals. However, a team really isn't a team if the teachers don't meet together regularly. It would be like a team of football coaches only getting together on game day. Without a certain quantity of quality time, they would not be able to adjust and plan based on their players. Teachers in the classroom need the same thing - a quantity of quality time to do all the things listed in the first post of this series.

For more information on teaming teachers to transition freshmen check out The Ninth Grade Opportunity: Transforming Schools from the Bottom Up.

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Tags: duty, freshman, habeeb, master, meet, planning, schedule, scott, teams, transition

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