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G R E AT T E A C H I N G 25 December 2017 | Professionally Speaking The Ontario Certified Teacher featured in this profile has been recognized with a teaching award and exemplifies the high standards of practice to which the College holds the teaching profession . In addition to making site visits to pro- vide direct help, Carrol offers to connect counsellors with mentors on staff at other schools. She advises them to reach out to community organizations and to establish more than just cursory relationships with the high schools they feed into. The end goal, she says, is to ensure her colleagues are equipped to provide students with the support they need leading up to and during their high school transition. "We know that the transition from Grade 8 to Grade 9 is tough, and if we are going to get students over it, we need to make sure that they're engaged," Carrol says. "I have empathy with those who are a little lost and need a little nurturing." This is a quality that inspires others. "Her personality and her drive to achieve is contagious," says Cheryl Streete, OCT, who is the principal at Bristol Road Middle School. While working under Streete at Glenhaven Senior Public School in Mississauga Carrol ran a long list of initiatives to support their marginalized students, from setting up mentoring partnerships with adults in the community, to mental health and anti-bullying initiatives. When Carrol left, Streete says, other teachers asked if they could continue her work. In her new role, Carrol is passionate about building supports for four types of students who face a high risk of stumbling amidst the transition. They are those with attendance issues, mental health concerns, English-language learn- ers and Special Education students. They are all on her radar for custom strategies to improve outcomes. "Those are the four being nurtured or cared for in the elementary setting; there's potential for losing them in secondary," she says. To change that, Carrol has worked hard to build processes that will assist her col- leagues to better bridge the gap, which includes forging more intimate connec- tions between feeder and high schools. "In elementary we have the responsibility to prepare them for the environment in secondary. We also have to know that we're recommending the right program or type of course," she says. "And we have to give the high school a lot of in- formation, and strategies, to carry over." Sometimes that's as simple as ensuring a particular student is registered to take phys-ed in the first semester," Carrol says, "because that will hook them in." Planning for this, Carrol believes, needs to start in Grade 7. A Peel program called the English Language Learner Transition Application Fund (ELLTAF) pairs a handful of English- language learners with high schoolers who take them through a day-in-the-life of Grade 9. They attend classes together, eat in the cafeteria together and ask plenty of questions of their older peers. The goal is to create a less intimidating experience for students who might be put off by the pomp of big orientation days, which often include multiple feeder schools and can have a carnival feel. At Carrol's urging, the fund was expanded to include not just Grade 8s but Grade 7s. Her goal is to reinforce students' sense that there is continuity in their community early on, despite switching schools. "Whatever roadblocks, hardships or difficulties they're going to have," Carrol says, "if they feel they have a community and a place they belong, that is a huge help." Working to reinforce this across her board has put Carrol at the top of her game. "We often say in education that it comes down to relationships, and Amanda just innately understands that," says Graham. "She has a fabulous skill set, a positive attitude and she is always there to help the students." PS The transition into high school can be tricky for students. Award-winning Amanda Carrol, OCT, shares five ways guidance counsellors and classroom teachers can help make what is often a tough time for teens a seamlessly smooth experience. 1. Start Early Allow families time to process their options by providing parents and students with information about the types of programs and courses they should begin prior to Grade 8. 2. Involve Parents Help parents recognize their child's academic interests, strengths and needs (in and outside of the classroom), so they can have realistic expectations for career options and consider various pathways. 3. Make Multiple Pl ans Encourage students to dream big and look at a variety of post-secondary pathways and occupations that may differ from what their parents chose. When students change their minds (not if!), they'll be familiar with the process of making decisions, researching options and setting goals. 4. Work Backwards Have students begin with an occu- pation of interest and then research post-secondary programs and related secondary courses, so they understand the connections and stay motivated toward their goal. 5. Build Resilience Ensure outgoing elementary students know that secondary school staff are there to help them succeed. Provide them with opportunities to visit their future school and hear from Grade 9s, which will create a sense of belonging. Use discussions about their feelings and concerns as springboards to develop coping strategies. Reassure them that transitions are part of life and growth. T h e t r a n s i t i o n f r o m G r a d e 8 t o 9 i s t o u g h ; i f w e ' r e g o i n g t o g e t s t u d e n t s o v e r i t, w e n e e d t o m a k e s u r e t h e y ' r e e n g a g e d . school s s wi t ching

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