Friday, October 15, 2010

The Team

Despite being a high school teacher, I teach on a team. Why? Because we have a Freshman Academy! The idea is that the first year of high school is a critical transition period. Students are attempting to find out who they are in the high school world. Our teams are centered around core content areas, but the electives are still mixed with older students.

I teach with three other teachers. Between the four of us, we share about 100 common students. We communicate several times a week, through emails, phone calls and team meetings (or just stopping by your friend's room!). It works. It works really well. I cut my failure rate by 60% in one year and this year is going even better.

The Freshman Academy is one of my favorite parts of teaching freshmen. They get to be their goofy, immature selves without worrying about some sixteen or seventeen year old repeater in the room who could bring them down. Freshman really are a different breed of student. They aren't middle schoolers, but they really aren't high schoolers yet, either. They need special love and care. The kind of love and care only a team can provide.

Freshman Academies are very successful across the country. They are one of the programs that has been proven successful in struggling schools. Academies are just one of the ways that public schools are utilizing research to adjust their programs to make students more successful. Education is not stagnate. Teaching like they did in the 50s is no longer okay. It's slow, because you can't just do random things with students without at least some reasoning and research. The point is, this notion that school is still the same that it used to be is as outdated as Ferris Bueller's economics teacher's pedagogy.

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