Making the transition from the elementary school to the high school can be difficult for students. This transition can be easier if teachers communicate more freely between buildings. Here are some ideas for high school teachers to build bridges with elementary school colleagues and students:
• Attend grade eight night-Let the Principal know you are planning to attend the grade eight graduation ceremony for their school. Doing so will enable you to mingle with teachers and parents getting to know a few of them. After I did this, many students rushed to find me on the first day of grade nine just to say hi and I made it!
• Explore the Student Reports and make contact-The CASI assessment helps elementary teachers to understand the needs of their students. Looking through the elementary CASI results of my students helps me to plan my instruction in grade nine. If there is a particular student I am wondering about, I will try to make contact with the former grade eight teacher for a quick conversation about strategies. NOTE: Recognize that we are all on busy schedules so quick conversations are the best. Sometimes email is a better way to connect.
• Encourage students to Send Updates-Many elementary teachers wonder how their former students are doing in high school. Often, I will ask my students to write an update note to their grade eight teacher. In my district, it is easy to send these notes through the courier system. This is always a great way to make connections and build bridges with elementary colleagues.
We are on the same team even though we are in different buildings. Reaching out can in these simple ways can make the transition from elementary buildings to high school buildings more successful for students, families and colleagues.
What are some ways you have reached out to your colleagues in other buildings? How has this benefited your work?
Janet Lee has been an English teacher/Department Chair, Adult literacy advocate with Arnie Stewart, Nipissing University Reading Part 3 Instructor, Student Success Literacy Consultant, and Nelson Literacy 7-10 instructional writer and media specialist. Janet Lee enjoys maintaining her blog This Side of the Mirror-A Journey Through Reflection to inspire teachers and address practical issues in education.