Thursday, May 14, 2015

Be the Bridge for All Kids

Kids are getting ready for summer.  Teachers are ready to wrap up 2014-2015, and parents are ready for kids to come home for summer.  Our minds are ever focused on ending this year, but we must remember that the end of the one year leads to a beginning of the next one.  What kids learned or didn't learn this year sets them up for what we hope they learn next year.  

Summer break can be viewed as either a break or a transition based on mindset.  If viewed as a break, very little carries over from one year to the next.  If viewed as a transition, then strategies, interventions and supports will carry over seamlessly from one year to the next like a bridge connects one piece of land to another. 

If we want kids to continue to grow and reach success from year to year, we must remember these things.

  1. Kids regress over the summer, and struggling kids regress even more than their average counterparts.
  2. Teachers spend at least the first 6 weeks of school experimenting with strategies until they find the right ones to help every child succeed.
  3. Struggling kids need successful strategies to follow them in the same way that their performance data follows them from year to year and school to school.
  4. Transitions from grade to grade and building and building can negatively impact kids without a well-defined transition plan.

Be the Bridge

Here's my challenge.  Be the Bridge!  Don't miss the opportunity to set your kids up for success next year.  Transition sheets or notes are a great way to help kids start next year off on the right foot by preparing next year's teachers to help them continue on their path to excellence.  A transition sheet/note can have performance data on it, but to make it even more powerful it must also have strategies and notes about the child to give next year's teachers a head start with students that they don't know.  Examples of useful information on a transition sheet/note could include the following:
  • What strategies helped the student with problem-solving?
  • Is the student a kinesthetic, auditory or visual learner, and how did you address this learning style in your instruction?
  • Does the kid respond well in a one-on-one setting, in groups or whole group?
  • Does the student benefit from preferential seating, manipulatives, a copy of the notes, or graphic organizers?
  • What interventions help this kid learn best?
  • If the student had behavior issues, what behavior supports helped him/her improve on their behavior?
If you think about it, these are questions that teachers will spend the first 6 weeks of school answering through trial and error, but with transition sheets/notes passed from this year's teacher to next year's teacher, next year's teacher set up for success on the first day of school.  If you have students  that benefited from your great strategies to help them reach excellence, please take a second to write down those strategies and share them with next year's teacher. 

Sink, Swim or Cross the Bridge

Kids are going to end this year and start next year, but here's an analogy for you to consider.  Think of summer break as a river.  Kids are standing on the bank of this year and across the river is the beginning of next year.  High performing kids are strong swimmers and will cross the river of summer just fine.  Average kids will make it across for the most part on time with little difficulty, but struggling kids will obviously have greater difficulty making the transition, and if they manage to swim across without drowning, they will be behind the rest of their peers (that is called regression).  We owe it to all kids to build a bridge by passing along all of the great things that helped all of our kids learn and create consistency from one year to the next, so that all kids can safely cross the river of transition and begin next year right where they left off this year.  You never know.  Being the bridge for all kids might just be the one thing that helps a potential dropout turn into a standout.


No comments:

Post a Comment