Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Homeroom


Ms. Lopez and Homeroom students
It may not seem like much, but in reality one of the most important elements of our school culture is our 5-minute daily homeroom period.  Students are assigned to the same teacher, in the same classroom, and with the same small cohort of students for all four years of high school - and they begin every school day together as home base.  The concept is to create an informal mentoring program in which all students have an adult in the school, in addition to their guidance counselor, who gets to know the student well and assists them in meeting their academic and personal goals. Homerooms are familiar and consistent, part of the daily routine, a welcoming and safe place, somewhat of an institutionalized "family" to start each day.  

The homeroom teacher is an important member included in their students' support teams, even though they may not have them in an academic class.  Homeroom teachers establish relationships with their students, helping them to navigate day to day issues and learning about their goals, talents, and interests.  It is not unusual for graduating seniors to name their homeroom teacher as a significant person in their high school experience.  

Four times a year, on the day we issue Term Progress Reports (the first of these is this Friday), we hold an extended 20-minute extended homeroom period.  Each term features a mentoring discussion connected to our school's core values and expectations, with themes that include self-advocacy, goal-setting, academic integrity, and responsibility to self and community.  Individual conversations about Term Progress Reports take place between students and their homeroom teachers, with a focus on strategies for improvement.

Pictured above is Ms. Lopez and a few of her homeroom students.  "You're the person they see every day", she said to me this morning.  "You get to know them so well, you know the little things, the funny things.  You can tell in a moment if they are having an off day".  It was nice being there this morning;  I laughed and enjoyed the camaraderie.  I can see why it is such a good place to begin each day.

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