New for the 2016-17 school year, Catskill Middle School has introduced a new building schedule that puts greater focus on individual student learning needs and supports a new team-teaching approach at our school.
Highlights include a regularly scheduled skill-building period, called Academic Team Time, that gives students targeted support or enrichment in the areas they need it most. The school also added an afterschool period so students can stay late on any day and get extra help with their school work. The new schedule also ups access to exploratory courses, with students in grades six through eight now taking one quarter each of art, music, technology, and family & consumer sciences over the course of the school year.
Teachers of core subject areas have also been organized into teaching teams. For both seventh and eighth grades, there is now a cohesive, grade-level instructional team made up of an English teacher, a science teacher, a math teacher, a social studies teacher, and a teaching assistant. The team teaching approach brings greater continuity of instruction to students and allows the teachers to better identify individual student’s learning needs and work together to address them across the student’s entire school day. Built into the new schedule is a common planning period for the teachers to meet, discuss their students’ progress, and plan initiatives together.
“Team teaching allows the teachers to all have the same kids and the students to all have the same teachers.” explained middle school principal Kerry Overbaugh. “This puts five sets of eyes on the same student and those five sets of eyes meet every day. Where kids might fall through the cracks before, our teachers can now really know them all and work with them in the areas that they need skill building.”
The sixth grade is also using a team teaching approach, though here, the teams consist of two teachers who share a section of students, and who teach two core subjects apiece. The sixth grade schedule was also adjusted to more closely follow a middle school model. Previously, the sixth grade ran on a timetable different from the rest of the school. Now, sixth graders can better take advantage of the exploratory courses the middle school offers.
The recent changes at CMS represent just some of the many exciting initiatives taking place district wide this year to strengthen the school’s academic program and create more opportunities for Catskill students.