Every Thursday morning for ninth grade teachers at Collegiate Preparatory Academy (CPA) begins with our weekly team meeting. With our schedules designed to give us a common planning period, we are able to sit down for 45 minutes and discuss successes, and concerns, that have come up within our freshman class. Our meetings are structured and efficient, but at the same time casual and free-flowing in nature, as we have built a team culture where all participants feel able to be open and honest.
Our meetings are largely based around the “stoplight” – a Google spreadsheet that lists all freshman students, with a column for each teacher to fill in red, yellow, or green based on behavior, progress, grades, and any other relevant categories. The stoplight, which was initially used in the math department at CPA, has been broadened to include all content areas, and provide a way for us to see, at a glance, which students we need to talk about at any given meeting.
At a first look, this spreadsheet may seem impersonal, as the students are portrayed as data values. However, the reality is quite the opposite: organizing our students in this list enables us to bring up each and every student in our meetings, discussing their individual needs. The data values are not numerical, but rather subjective, based on our instincts as teachers. If a student in my class who normally participates, turns in homework, and seems to be doing well suddenly changes in any of these aspects of their behavior, I can mark the student yellow, or even red on the spreadsheet, signaling the team that we need to discuss that student at our next meeting. If other teachers have labeled that student as yellow or red, we know we need to reach out to our “Whole-Child Team” who can provide services for social-emotional issues, or behavior or attendance concerns. Alternatively, if I find I am the only teacher who has marked the student yellow or red, I can discuss with my colleagues and gain insight on how to help reach that student in my particular subject area.
In addition to the “Stoplight,” our team meetings provide a time to discuss upcoming events at school, plan field trips or freshman events, and align our instructional strategies to create common-ground for our students across contents. The team meetings are a priority, and are rarely missed or rescheduled, despite the daily stresses and long to-do lists we each have. In this way, each and every one of our freshman students’ well-beings are in the forefront of our minds throughout the school year.
If you support programing, like this, to ensure that 9th graders are on track add your name here.