Friday, May 25, 2012

Making Study Hall Cool

We've had middle school students spilling out into the hallway this year to stay in and work on their French at recess.  How?

First, I ought to mention that we are a "triple track" school... although I might be making up that term.  "Dual track" is commonly used, at least in Ontario, to describe a school that offers both Core French and French Immersion.  At my school, in addition to students who started studying French for 120 hours a year in grade 4, and the immersion students who began in grade 1 (with 90% French, then moving to half of their schedule for grades 2 and beyond), we also have late entry French immersion that begins in grade 7.

At my last school, the 8th grade teachers offered a "Study Club" during lunch recess to give those students who required more time to complete a test, were behind on a project, or needed some additional explanation about a concept a place to get that support.  This was a way to make the students accountable for their learning and progress, and to offer them the support they needed while ensuring that multiple teachers weren't tied up offering this support daily to a handful of students. 

So when I arrived at a new school this September and another teacher suggested that since I was an itinerant teacher on a cart, I could use her room for extra help or detentions if needed during lunch, I counter-offered that we take turns. Together we decided to "rally the troops" and to see if a number of teachers would be willing to take an assigned day of the schedule as an extra supervision.  This is of course unpaid, and does not replace any supervision assigned by the office, so it is entirely voluntary. Because we do have a number of French teachers who this benefits, we did manage to have all days of the schedule covered.  Even through a couple of staff changes due to leaves of absence, we have been able to have that mostly maintained for the entire year.  Thanks to my generous colleagues who agreed to give up one lunch hour a week for this service!

We made announcements in the school newsletter (more than once), had leaflets available during Interview Night (and could have handed them out even more proactively during Open House in the fall, had we been set up a little earlier).  There were also daily announcements indicating the location and supervising teacher, and notices printed on brightly coloured paper and stapled to bulletin boards in key locations around the school. You can download a blank version of the 8.5 x 11" poster I made if you'd like.

Does your school offer a place for students to catch up on work?  Or do teachers have to offer extra support to their own students daily?  If it is offered in one location, does it include French? I'd love for you to leave me a comment and let me know!


2 comments:

  1. J'aime bien l'idée du partage! I do a "French Café" ... just my "fancy term" to try to get kids to come to study hall...but to be honest, it's not very busy. I will admit that I haven't PUSHED it, but I like the idea that you rotate the teachers running it; I feel like that gives kids an opportunity to hear the concept explained differently (if needed) and would likely get more kids coming in since it's open to more than just my own students....thanks for sharing! :)

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  2. Mutual benefit, mutual gain, increased support for the students... everybody wins! Are there enough French teachers at your school that you could do this, even on alternate days?

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