This summer, Trish King and I received the Faculty Collaboration Grant. Our original goal was to create a more cohesive transition between the 6th and 7th grade social studies classes, in terms of both skills and content. After two weeks of collaborating, we found that our time together provided so much more than our original goals, as it gave us the opportunity and time to explore new concepts and ideas for future of both classes and the benefit of all students.
We firmly believe that it is important for teachers to have the time and opportunity to meet together, collaborate, and build “best practices” across grade and subject lines. Iron, after all, sharpens iron.
Over the course of two weeks, we worked on both the micro and macro levels of our curricula to create consistent practices that our students can expect as they transition from 6th to 7th grade. We re-examined everything from our approaches to organizing ourselves and our students with the new schedule to methods of communicating about our students and our expectations for them. We fine-tuned the progression of skills in writing, homework, analyzing and responding to primary sources and other prompts. The incorporation of common language in classroom expectations and the assessment process allowed us to build upon already strong expectations and methods to create a unified experience and smooth transition from 6th to 7th grade.
Our time together made us better teachers. We introduced each other to new sources and examples on which we can build for the future of our classes. Our students will directly benefit from the opportunity that we had to spend time together with the specific intention to restructure and align the social studies experience in 6th and 7th grades.
Our next steps include carrying out this process with grade 6th, 8th and possibly 9th grade teachers in our department. We will take the ideas into our department meetings and work to create an even stronger cohesion within the Middle School throughout the next school year.