Effective Practices : End of Year Classroom Changes
End of Year Classroom Changes
Pedagogical Operations Section 4
1. When does the transition from one classroom to another take place in your school for teachers and students in the grades? Does this transition take place at the end of the school year with student involvement, or is the move an invisible one that takes place over the summer? Describe the manner in which this transition takes place in your school.
2. How was this approach to classroom transitions developed? What is the thinking behind your school’s approach?
3. What is particularly effective about your school’s method of transitioning a class from one room to another?
4. If there were something that you could change with respect to your school’s approach to moving a class from one room to another at year end what would it be and why?
When does the transition from one classroom to another take place in your school for teachers and students in the grades? Does this transition take place at the end of the school year with student involvement, or is the move an invisible one that takes place over the summer? Describe the manner in which this transition takes place in your school.
The end of the school year in Waldorf lower schools is marked by an annual rite of passage - moving into the next year’s classroom. Some schools attempt to do the move in a very short period of time, coordinating the entire move for all eight grades in just the main lesson period on the last day of school. Other schools take a more leisurely approach, and spread the process over several days. The following three stories illustrate the various approaches used:
School A - The Main Lesson Move
The transition from one classroom to another happens on the very last day of school during main lesson. We do as much packing and organizing as possible during the week. Teachers use the packing process as an opportunity to review the work that was completed during the year, the books that were read, and the paintings that were done, and so on. The teacher packs up the things that belong to the class such as pencils and other supplies.
Eighth grade moves first, followed quickly by the seventh grade. Inevitably bottlenecks occur and in some cases the first grade can be left with only a few minutes to make their move before main lesson is over. We’re working on improving our readiness so that our youngest students are not overburdened to move more quickly than they are able. We strive to leave a truly clean classroom behind so that the next teacher can move in easily.
This year our move is unusual. Some classes are moving to rooms that are not the usual ones for their grade. This is due to the size of the class and our need to make sure that there is enough room in the new classroom to accommodate the number of students.
We have a significant problem with blowing dust and dirt in our area, and make sure that all of our books and supplies are wrapped in garbage bags and then boxed up for storage over the summer. Just before class resumes in the fall the teacher will dust the room again and unpack only the supplies that are going to be needed during the early part of the year. We have learned to be conscious of the environmental issues that exist in our area.
School B - The One Day Move
At our school the first grade does not move; instead this process takes place over the summer with the help of parent volunteers.
The eighth grade cleans its room before their graduation, which occurs the Saturday before school is dismissed for the rest of the campus.
The remaining classes move on the second to last day of school. We often have an interesting dance taking place with incoming students coming in one door to the classroom just as other older students are leaving out the other door.
In some years the seventh grade is able to move earlier in the week as the 8th grade has already moved out. However in some years the senior class uses the 8th grade room as a dressing room for their senior play which is performed on Thursday of the final week of school and this prevents early movement by the 7th grade.
School C - The One Week Move
The transition from one classroom to another is done in the last week of school. The move actually starts on Friday before the last week, with the 8th grade moving on that day. Typically the 6th and 7th grades will move on Monday, with one class moving in the morning and the second in the afternoon. This is followed by the 4th and 5th grades on Tuesday. On Wednesday only the 3rd grade moves as their new classroom is on the other side of the campus and the move is a bit more time consuming. Then the 1st and 2nd grades complete their moves on Thursday.
After a class completes the move of their classroom supplies and personal property then the students return to their old classroom to do a thorough job of cleaning. This cleaning process includes an expectation that desks will be returned to like-new quality. Desks are washed down and screws tightened. If necessary desk tops are sanded, puttied, and refinished. In the older grades much of this work is done by the students; in the younger grades there is a fairly high level of parent participation. Once the classroom has been cleaned a representative from the College reviews the room and looks at each desk to ensure it has been returned to pristine condition. Eighth grade students who fail to return their desks to proper condition may have their diplomas withheld until the work is complete.
In most years the 8th grade is gone on a field trip the last week of school, which is why they are able to clean out their room the Friday before school is dismissed. In the years in which the students do not go on a field trip at this time the class is involved in community service projects, and does not spend time inside their classroom in the final week. The handwork room is typically designated as the place for students to leave their backpacks if they are on campus performing community service.
During the time of the move it is the class teacher who is in charge of coordinating all the details. Subject teachers who are scheduled to be with the class during the time of the move still show up to class, and are expected to assist the class teacher in whatever way is needed.
How was this approach to classroom transitions developed? What is the thinking behind your school’s approach?
All of the schools surveyed reported that their processes for moving had been in place for many years, although each school continues to find ways to improve the moving process.
What is particularly effective about your school’s method of transitioning a class from one room to another?
If people are all prepared there is a real smoothness to this approach.
We deliver boxes to each classroom in advance of the move so that materials can be easily packed and prepared for the transition. Class teachers are not expected to find boxes on their own, or beg for them at the local market.
We don’t spend the summer cleaning the room. The room is done and ready for the coming year.
At the time of the move the administrator provides each class teacher with a move form. This form serves two purposes. The first is an opportunity to list all needed repairs and improvements for the classroom that is being vacated. This helps ensure that needed repairs are completed over the summer. The second is an opportunity to list the number of desks and chairs that the teacher anticipates needing in the fall so that the school staff can ensure that the proper number of student spaces are provided.
This approach to moving between classrooms has become an established rhythm at the school. The students know what to expect and participate happily as they are excited to feel like they are now in a higher grade. It also has the advantage of making the students have a sense of ownership of the school and to understand the consequences of failing to properly maintain desks and chairs during the school year.
Although the school provides a general approach to the move in terms of date and time, each class teacher is allowed to coordinate things in his or her own way so that things move smoothly for each class.
If there were something that you could change with respect to your school’s approach to moving a class from one room to another at year end what would it be and why?
Everyone being ready on time is a challenge.
Currently the eighth graders don’t come to the school on the last day, and have cleaned out their room prior to that time. We are thinking about having them come to school and asking them to help the younger grades with their moves.
Field trips that are scheduled during the last week can wreak havoc with the classroom move schedule. In those cases the parents are expected to come in and move for the students, but this doesn’t always leave a room handed over the way that we would like.
We need to get better at handing over resources such as maps and readers. All too often we discover materials that were needed during the school year in the moving process. Perhaps we need to keep an inventory, sign materials out from the teacher resource center, and then ensure that the supplies are handed over or returned at year end.