Following the 20 - 21 school year, many students were eager to return to the traditional style classroom, but some preferred the cohort style.
During the 20 - 21 school year, students at Turner Middle School were cohorted into one class due to the need to limit exposure of COVID. While many students were eager to return to the more traditional style of having various classes throughout the day, some students preferred the cohorted classrooms. "We discovered that many students benefitted from the smaller environment and additional support. For those students, grades were much better than any time before," said Dr. Bill Weber, TMS Principal.
Administrators explored the possibility of being able to continue to offer the cohort classes following the 20 - 21 school year. It would require additional funding to be able to staff these classes. That's where a grant from the Mid America Regional Council (MARC) came in and made it possible. Because of the grant, TMS was able to offer three cohort classes, two seventh grade and one eighth grade, for the 22 - 23 school year.
So far, the cohort classes have been beneficial for students. "I think because we get more attention and there aren't any distractions with the class being smaller, I can pay attention easier," said Jaci, a seventh grade student. Another student in the class, Gavin, agreed, "There's a lot less people and a lot less insecurities - big classes make me uncomfortable, and I can't get my work done."
Although they are modeled after the cohorting done during the 20 -21 school year, these classes have some differences, "Unlike the very closed cohorts from COVID, cohort class students still attend elective classes with peers and interact in places like the lunchroom with peers. We want them to be supported but still feel like they are a valued part of our Turner Middle School Family," said Dr. Weber.
Students in the cohort class still experience the school's normal seven class period schedule and transition to multiple classrooms throughout the building. They are in their cohort classroom for social studies, math, science, language arts, and study skills. Ms. Jennifer Thomas, seventh grade cohort teacher, finds many benefits in this schedule, "Although there are still numerous transitions throughout the day, they know that they will see the same teacher multiple times a day. Adjusting to secondary school can be challenging and the cohort model intends to build the skills learners need to manage multiple daily transitions and classroom expectations through an intentionally supportive environment."
When asked why some students do better in a cohort classroom, Ms. Thomas shared, "The cohort model provides a smaller class size which has accelerated trust both between students and between students and staff. This small setting has promoted academic risk taking much more quickly than I've ever seen in a larger class setting. So far it is very effective academically as most of my students are honor roll bound!"
Turner Middle School is grateful for the MARC grant and and hopes to continue to provide the support of cohorts in the future.