Saturday, September 12, 2009

Homeroom: Making a Small School Smaller

This is the second year that we have had homerooms at the high school. Homeroom period is ten minutes every day (except during block days) between 3rd and 4th bell, and immediately after Chapel on Wednesdays. Homeroom replaces the old advisory groups which met quarterly. Each group consists of ten to thirteen students of the same grade and gender and one faculty member or administrator. We have been able to create this period without taking away from instructional time because our expanded cafeteria has allowed us to go from three lunches down to two.

Homeroom has a few basic purposes. First, it is a place to give announcements, hand out forms and paperwork, and generally take care of school business. In the past, this happened at the beginning of 2nd Bell. But this wasn't always the most ideal way to communicate information. While 2nd Bell was slightly longer, occasionally announcements and business could bleed over into class time. This system had the effect of shortening the same class with every overage. We work hard to restrict classroom interruptions as much as possible. Another benefit to disseminateing information in homerooms is that, generally speaking, the smaller the group hearing announcements, the more effective the communication. Homerooms are generally much smaller than a typical class.

Second, and more importantly, homerooms form communities within the greater school community. Even though our school is small by some standards, some students still feel isolated. Because of homeroom, every student connects with the same group of classmates and an adult every day. Many churches create this community within a community with "small groups" or "home fellowships groups." Homeroom is ultimately relational time. Our homerooms foster relationships that help students navigate the school year socially, emotionally, and spiritually. It is a safe place for discussion, sharing, and praying together. Because it is immediately after Chapel, it creates a great place for chapel debrief as well. Mr. Salkil even creates potential discussion questions for his chapel talks.

Of my twelve students in homeroom, I had only worked with five of them before in a class or Winter Term. Over the past three weeks, I have had the distinct pleasure of getting to know a group of talented, considerate, thoughtful, and fun(ny) senior men. I look forward to sharing this year with them! I hope they can receive from me all of the energy, hope, and insight I gain from them.

No comments:

Post a Comment