Last year, my school started what we call the House System. The student body was randomly divided into one of eight houses consisting of students across grade levels. Also, let's just say statistics were involved in an attempt to also divide amongst GPA, athletes, art, etc. to maintain a equitable balance. There's about 150 students per House. In addition to dividing the student body, staff also got split into the Houses with the goal that there was a staff member from each discipline in every House (some Houses had more). This means that we have about 10-12 teachers in each House as well.
SO... what is so special about it?
#1 - Time
We meet every day for 30 minutes. Four houses meet in one grouping while four eat lunch, then we all switch. It helps with overcrowding in the cafeteria too... an added bonus!
#2 - The general schedule:
Monday - Announcements via School News and other general messages
Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday - FLEX Days - Students get to pick which room they go to in our House (Community, Technology, Group Study, Quiet Study, etc.) Any students with D's or F's go to Student Support where they get more individualized mentoring from a House teacher and student mentors that have applied. Students on IEP's or 504's get to meet with their Case Managers.
Friday - House Day - Games, events, socials, team-building, clubs
#3 - Class Officers and Student Council
Each class has an officer in each House, so there are 8 from each grade level. Student Council has a similar breakdown. These elected student leadership meet once a month to do their specific tasks and once a month with the administration as a task force. These meetings usually fall on every-other Friday.
#4 - Clubs
You heard it right... we traditionally DO NOT have after school clubs. The only after school activities are usually sports, arts, or class leadership. Thus, every student in our school is in a club. Clubs range from table tennis, to movie club, to National Honor Society, to board games, to STEMgirls, and more... there's at least 50 or more... all led by staff!
#5 - Opportunities
My House is one that directly links with the special education department. Hence, my House room consists of regular education students interacting regularly with special education students - playing games, talking, etc. Nothing has melted my heart more. A big ole football player playing a matching game with a student who has Downs Syndrome... or a group of girls talking with a student who has Autism about his love of movies. It is so very rare to have this interaction, and I have seen a tremendous impact on all of us as a result. There is no difference - we are all the same.
Yes, the House System has seen its ups and downs. However, now that we are into Year #2, I am confident that it will only continue to evolve and benefit kids. After all, we strive to Do what is best for kids. All the time. No matter what.