No matter what variety of 1:1 (or other educational initiative for that matter) that will change the learning environment of your school, focusing all energies on the existing community (teachers, parents, upper classmen) fails to recognize the incoming members of the community. For us, ground level conversations in the TRC about October began to illustrate our freshmen were struggling more than usual. Concerns of low organizational skills and poor time management, a perennial issue, seemed more consistent and cause for concern. Enough so that for our November Delayed Opening PD session, our principal had the faculty read the University of Chicago's report "Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance" prior to meeting. It's a long report - I'm not going to lie - but critical in analyzing those "soft skills" beyond intelligence that successful students use to navigate school and life. The five categories include:
- Academic Behaviors
- Academic Perseverance
- Academic Mindsets
- Learning Strategies
- Social Skills
|Brebeuf's 5 Day Rotation Schedule
And then we gave them the ultimate distraction... A personal computing device.
So what will we do differently for the Class of 2017?
- Our Academic Counselors are creating an intentional Study Skills curriculum for our existing freshmen seminar program. Topics include relationship building with teachers, calendaring/note taking/organizational tools and tricks (virtual and physical), time management and stress.
- Revamp of our Freshmen and Parent Orientations to include more concrete elements of expectations and tools for success.
- Freshmen teachers are creating standards of expectations to hit especially hard the first 4 weeks of school to help students establish a routine
- A summer skills Boot Camp for students interested in getting a jump start on their Brebeuf transition
- A possible peer mentoring program teaming freshmen with an upper class buddy