In a world where educators are asked to do more and more with little and are lambasted in the news, I wanted to honor the amazing work that the educators in my community are accomplishing, especially their efforts this past weekend in my slice. I am privileged to wake up every day and work with them and am proud of their bravery to try something a little bit different.
One of my favorite articles of the week to share at the beginning the year with my freshmen students is this one Back to School: Toughest Test of All is 9th Grade. I love teaching freshman and often remark that I am 14 on the inside which is why I enjoy teaching this grade level. I could teach any grade, but it is by far my favorite. Freshmen are optimistic and full of hope. I have taught freshman at three radically different schools and all of the freshmen brought hope to school. They have a vision of where they see themselves in 4 years regardless of their past. It's exciting! You can work with hope. It is an energy if sustained grows exponentially. Sadly though for many reasons as outlined in the article above and others as I have discovered, freshmen do lose hope and then we are in danger of losing them. As reading coach and English teacher at a school of over 3000 students, I have come to the conclusion that academic issues that freshman struggle with are a bit bigger than just one teacher and needed to be addressed by a community, hence our "freshman intervention."
I've spent at least three years trying to organizing a systematic process for dealing with freshmen who struggle, first with teachers, then with the small leadership team in my SLC, and finally this year with the entire SLC leadership team. We have taken small steps forward and missteps backward, but this year our team has had an amazing power surge. An energy they will be able to sustain after the success of our work on Saturday with our "New Year, New You" parent-student workshop. It is one in a series of events that we have organized this year to address the freshmen academic issues at our school. The success was due to the commitment of every administrator and guidance counselor as well as the teachers, staff members and students who graciously gave up their Saturday to make a difference Each person who volunteered felt the power of their service and it was evident in their parent-student responses that our work mattered. It wasn't a perfectly orchestrated event, but for the students and parents who showed up we have made a difference.
You have a small window to capture freshman before they give up and our intervention has pried that window up a little wider. I love that members of our SLC leadership team has been able to brave the possibilities with me this month, not only for them, but our community, especially our students..
I will post the timeline and resources for others who are interested on my blog on Thursday this week.