Dear Parents and Students:
We are happy you are utilizing this resource. The Internet is a great communication tool. However, please note that the website should be used in addition to the student daily agenda, and not in place of it.
Parents, you may find it helpful to compare your son/daughter's agenda against the content found in the team web pages. This is a great way to check the accuracy of your child's recording of assignments. Thank you for your continued partnership in your child's education. Enjoy!
Brian J. White
Teaming at Henry James
The Simsbury Public School system has embraced the teaming philosophy for the organization of our middle school in meeting the needs of all students. According to Turning Points 2000, “creating smaller schools is an important strategy for fostering supportive relationships between teachers and students. In large schools or small, however, creating teams of teachers and students is a vital part of developing a middle grade learning community.”
Team organization has long been promoted in the middle grades as a way for students to bridge the gap between the self-contained elementary classrooms and the departmentalized secondary classroom structure. In addition to being an advantage for students, team organization offers advantages for the teachers, support staff, and parents.
Within the teaming structure, teachers are provided with a common planning time to facilitate communication with colleagues and parents. Research suggests that when teams have adequate planning time per week, they are better able to integrate the curriculum across subject areas; coordinate student assignments, assessments, and other aspects of instruction; involve parents in their children’s education; and contact health and other services to address behavioral issues or other concerns that affect learning (Turning Points 2000, p. 131). A key component of the team structure is that team teachers all have the same group of students and a greater sense of unity is achieved through the team structure.
It is our continued goal to create teams that are heterogeneous in nature. Every effort is made to balance teams by placing students of all achievement levels and students with special needs evenly among all teams. A balance of students from each of the elementary schools is present on each seventh grade team. Likewise, when teams are recreated in grade 8, students from each of the seventh grade teams are spread among the eighth grade teams. The placement of students on teams is done through looking at a variety of conditions.
When students from all five elementary schools merge in grade 7, they find it a healthy experience to meet new friends and experience a new beginning. Old friends and classmates are never far away since all seventh grade homerooms are located near each other and students have freedom and time to meet friends before and after school. All activities are open to all students, and teaming does not hinder continuation of friendships.
All students, regardless of the team they are placed on, will receive a rich, challenging and varied curriculum that provides them with opportunities to explore new areas of study and to grow as learners. The teams, however, do operate with some independence with regards to interdisciplinary units, field trips, special events, and the format through which they communicate with parents. However, there are some common field trips and other common special events. We do not feel it necessary that everyone must participate in identical educational activities to accomplish the same goals.
Each grade 7 and grade 8 team consists of four teachers: specialists in the areas of English, math, science, and social studies. Additionally, each seventh grade team also includes a teacher of world language. One member of each team is the team leader who facilitates and coordinates all team activities.