Education column: Dynamic duos help students in transition

Cindy Kelyn-Kennedy: Clovis Municipal Schools

Who doesn’t remember the difficulty of transitioning from lower to upper grades? Not only do academics become more challenging, psychological and emotional changes kick in to add pressure to the mix for sophomores arriving at Clovis High School.

As a targeted focus to address needs through this transition, Clovis High School has come up with a solution encompassing the latest research to help smooth the way for incoming sophomores.

Called “Dynamic Duos,” the program’s philosophy is reflected not only in CHS’s own mission statement, “preparing all students for a lifetime of success,” the Dynamic Duos developed their own: “Meeting the needs of every student, every time through teamwork, consistency, pedagogy and commitment.”

Dynamic Duos are 16 teachers divided into eight teams of two teachers. Incorporating winning elements from similar programs, the CHS Dynamic Duos program has been developed and fine-tuned in-house by CHS staff.

Initiated last summer, these teachers volunteered to participate in the program, some giving up their upper grade courses just to work with incoming sophomores.

The Dynamic Duo teachers began meeting in the summer months for training and to work on resources, with funding covered by a grant written by CHS staff for the Educator Initiative Program (EIP) grant, funded by the Clovis Municipal Schools’ Education Foundation. These grants are awarded annually, based on educational merit, to individual teachers or teams. In addition, at the beginning of this school year, sophomore parents were contacted to share the new plan, and it has been well-received.

The curriculum is project-based, the intent being to engage and involve students directly. In addition to academics, it also encompasses positive behavior management strategies that are used daily in the classroom.

Dynamic Duo teams consist of English teachers combined with a social studies teachers and math teachers are combined with science teachers. This allows the content presented to students to complement and blend as seamlessly as possible, reinforcing retention of material for students.

Interestingly, as collaboration has grown, the teams have begun combining to expand activities beyond their Dynamic Duo partnership. A recent unit on imperialism combined all four core areas across the curriculum with all sophomore teachers involved.

Through the Dynamic Duo program sophomore teachers actively and meticulously follow the progress of all their students, and tutor when necessary, advise, encourage, as well as celebrate successes.

Cara Malone, CHS instructional coach, who was instrumental in facilitating the program, reports, “Teachers are collaborating as never before,” and went on to describe the high degree of commitment through collaboration that has been required throughout.

How about another strong indicator of success? Sophomore student attendance has also improved significantly.

The world is changing quickly, and it’s up to us to find the most effective ways to reach our students. In education it’s a daily challenge, and the commitment of educators like our CHS staff is making a difference.

Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at cindy.kleyn-kennedy@clovis-schools.org