Grade 9 is an entry year, and is carefully structured to help all students make a successful transition to the Upper School, whether they are coming from the Middle School at SPA or from a different school. Orientation activities for both students and parents take place throughout the first part of the year. The Grade 9 teaching team intentionally focuses on and reinforces learning strategies as well as skills specific to their discipline, and by the end of Grade 9, most students really know how to “do school” effectively at SPA.
In Grade 9, students have increased choices in terms of their elective courses, their interest in student leadership and organizations, and their co-curricular activities. All Grade 9 students are scheduled into proctored study halls during non-class periods, but they also begin to make decisions around their use of unscheduled time during some X periods, lunch, and at the end of study halls (which do not take up a full class block).
Parent roles are always important but begin to change in Grade 9. Whereas with younger students a parent may have contacted a teacher directly to ask a question on behalf of a student, in ninth grade we encourage students to take this initiative themselves. Parents may help students problem-solve, encourage students to seek out teachers, help students plan ahead and make choices, and secure support services if appropriate.
On average, teachers expect 45 minutes of study or homework per class meeting for each academic subject. We all understand, of course, that some students will be able to complete their homework more quickly than this average, while some students may take longer than the average. Because classes meet every other day, students can (and need to) plan ahead to get their work done for each class. In most cases, students are best served by doing their homework on the night it is assigned, so they can check in with their teacher the next day if they have questions.