I’m always amazed at what freshmen can do when the environment is right.
We took 24 freshmen who are failing or nearly failing classes and gave them the option to stick around school for an extra five (5) hours. As I said goodbye to them this evening, they were rounding out 12 hours of being in the building.
They did a great job!
The planning for this event started almost two weeks ago. Teams were given 10 slots for the Git R’ Done event. Eight slots are for freshmen on the bubble between passing and failing. Two slots are for freshman tutors. We’ve used upperclassmen but learned that the right freshman in the midst of the same classes is both more effective and more efficient in working with their peers.
We started tonight at 3:10 in a classroom that holds 40+ students. Name placards were put on desks before students arrived.
As freshmen filed in and sat down, tutors passed out stacks of directions and assignments teachers had assembled. Other tutors took around tests. Freshmen wrote down the name of the test and were told that they need to be ready to take the test early in the evening. Tests are a priority.
I walked through expectations of the evening and dismissed students by team to the three rooms surrounding our conference room. Another teacher joined me and took the fourth team. The fourteen tutors joined the team to which they belonged.
Because we own an entire floor of a high school, room options are plentiful. Some students are put in a room by themselves. I check in regularly.
A testing room hosts all test takers, making it a quiet and secure room.
Breaks are done by rooms and sometimes not at all unless a student asks to use the restroom. Before we know it, it’s 7:00 PM. Time for dinner.
We do pizza and pop for dinner. I order enough for tutors to award a piece of pizza to hard-working freshmen.
At 7:30 we return to classrooms for the final push, and then we wrap-up at 8:00 PM in the room where we started.
We do a Git R’ Done at the end of 1st and 3rd quarters during the day. This event is done at the end of each semester in the evening to avoid removing students from class. Finals are a week from today and many classes are doing reviews.
Here are some things that I’ve learned that make this event work:
- Teachers are the key. If they are invested and produce good materials, it all goes well.
- Start organized. There’s a lot of materials that need to be cleanly presented so start well.
- Set high expectations. I invite students to leave if they are not here to get work done. This includes a pause inviting all who are not interested in working hard tonight to leave. It’s a win-win. If they all stay, great. If one leaves, I let that person walk out the door with no hesitation. It says I’m serious.
- I put up with very little except the occasional squirreliness from being in the building for so long.
- Get great tutors that can set the example. Thank them often and give them a gift card of some kind at the end of the evening. Many will come back! I had one student attend six Git R’ Done’s over three years.
- Spread students out and walk around constantly. It pays to be present.
- Order pizza early. Nothing kills the evening more than late pizza.
- Don’t talk about breaks. They work hard if things keep moving.
- Secure tests in the testing room and protect that space from noise.
- Have a hanging file for each teacher and have students turn in assignments as they are completed. Student pus a Staples “Easy Button” every time they complete an assignment.
- Candy about 5:45 can be a game-changer.
- Have good documentation that proves that parents know students are at school until 8:00 PM. I had one parent call the cops because they didn’t know where their kid was and the last place they looked was school.
- Take attendance every hour.
- Here is the paperwork I use for this event.
- Inventory rooms that are used before the event starts. I thought I lost a calculator and TSA’d every backpack before students left only to find out the calculator was being repaired and was never there in the first place.
- Let custodians know that rooms will be used. It helps in how they clean the building.
Students will rise to the level of expectation. They worked hard tonight and got stuff done. Many greatly improved their chances of becoming a sophomore.