Last week I attended freshman orientation and the high school open house for my internship placement. I got such a good feeling from the staff and administrators. While listening to them I heard several themes repeated throughout:
*The number 1 goal of the school is to create the best, safe learning environment possible.
*The staff really stressed a partnership between home & school. They were encouraging relationships with their child as well as with the staff at the school.
*There is a commitment for each freshman to graduate high school in 4 years.
This school holds a freshman orientation starting at 5:30. Parents and students are in two separate areas. The parents were listening to the administrators & counselors present information about the school and high school, in general. The staff was very honest with parents about the differences between high school and middle school including tough topics like alcohol, drugs, sexting, cyber bullying, and new relationships. They balanced these topics with more approachable topics like attendance, This may be a scary realization for parents, but I think its important to stress how parents can help guide their children. The principle suggested having an hour a night that is internet free. He suggested that having one hour free of cell phones, computers, and other mobile devices could benefit the parent-child relationship in the long-term (although initially the child may be upset about it).
At the same time, the incoming freshman also listened to a brief presentation. Then the students are sent on a scavenger hunt. I love love love this idea. The scavenger hunt involved doing crayon rubbings of each classroom number on their schedule, identifying their school counselor, getting a signature of one teacher, and getting a paper towel found in a bathroom. The students seemed to really be enjoying themselves. It was a time for them to explore the school, get familiar with their schedule, and find a bathroom without the upperclassman being present and the pressure of being on time for class.
Following the presentations and scavenger hunt students and parents came together to have a meal before the open house began at 7. The open house consisted of a short presentation, including teacher introductions, in the gym. Then families followed a shortened bell schedule to meet the teachers.
How do you help students get acclimated to high school?
What does your freshman orientation look like?
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