Whatever happened to …

… homerooms?

I’d forgotten about this but, fortunately, Sheila Stewart didn’t and put it forth to me as a suggestion for a Sunday topic. I think it’s a good one.

When I first went to high school, I was in 9A. Room 239. I can even remember the name of my homeroom teacher. All of us in the homeroom were in the Business and Commerce option and so travelled as a pack from most class to class. Then, I was in 10A, 11A, 12A, 13A. We were essentially the same group except for Grade 13 as many people had left the school at the end of Grade 12 for College or the world of work.

When I got my first teaching job, I ended up taking over a Grade 12 homeroom for someone who had left the school. It was a bit out of the ordinary. Normally, first year teachers got a Grade 9 homeroom and the philosophy was to grow with the kids as they worked their way through their school years. Grade 12 was a challenge as I was 23 at the time and only a few years older than the students. So, it was a little hard to sympathize with some of their challenges in school and life because I was or had experienced them. Yeah, I thought an hour of Mathematics homework nightly was cruel and unusual punishment.

My second year got me a Grade 9 homeroom and it was indeed fun. You got to know everyone; I was there early and could help with homework. The primary reason for the organization was to listen to the national anthem, announcements, and take attendance. Every now and again, we’d “hold homerooms” to do some activities to build team or character. There were also homeroom challenges for spirit and fund raising. We’d decorate the room and the hallway and the neat thing was that their lockers were all together, right outside the room. It wasn’t uncommon to go into the hallway and usher the stragglers in for announcements. My mailbox would periodically be filled with appointment sheets to visit guidance counsellors or, gasp, the vice-principal.

Unlike my high school where homerooms were organized by the program that you were attending, ours was organized alphabetically by last name. As a result, we had a collection of people with all different destinations once they left the school.

Things do change after a while and homerooms went away. Instead, students would report to their first period classes where attendance was taken and national anthem and announcements taken.

For a Sunday, how is your memory?

  • do you remember your high school homeroom? Or did you just go to your first period class?
  • do you think the change was made for efficiency; after all, it cut out the travel time from homeroom to first class
  • do you ever run into former students who recall the four or five years with the same friends?
  • of course, all of this assumes that it was all positive. Were there times that being with the same students was a challenge for some?
  • did you ever get one of those invitations for a 1:1 with the vice-principal?
  • if you were queen/king for a year, would you reinstate homerooms or would you maintain the status quo?
  • would you agree that homerooms model the elementary school experience and the lack of them models the college/university style?
  • how would a homeroom work in the days of COVID and online learning?

How are your homeroom memories? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Both Sheila and I would love to read them.

This is a regular Sunday post and the past posts are all available here. If you have an idea for a future post, reach out to me or leave your idea in this Padlet.

4 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Doug, while I don’t think we had a homeroom in high school, I see and hear about them a lot in Grades 7 and 8, especially if there’s rotary. As rotary seems to be decreasing due to COVID and cohorts, I wonder if homerooms in elementary school will decrease as well.



  2. The high school I attended had homerooms. I think they were by program. I was in the aeronautics program. So we did have classes in common.

    The school I retired from had and has homerooms. Homeroom teachers stay with the same students for all four years although I retired after my homeroom’s third year. I actually miss them and part of me wishes I had stayed to finish with them. But not a large enough part of have made me stay. 🙂


  3. I had to dig out some old high school yearbooks to help confirm my memory some more on this. Even the yearbook photos were organized by homeroom — each grade had a number of homerooms (students from A through Z in each and in various programs/levels). After “morning exercises” we would proceed to our various classes and programs. I remember homeroom activities and contests too. Maybe this was good for school spirit and participation, as not every student was a part of a club or sport. The homeroom groups weren’t kept the same as we moved through the grades though. I think I got to know more teachers this way too, as I may not have had my homeroom teacher for a class subject.
    My daughters only experienced the “first class is homeroom” in high school. I guess both structures have their advantages and disadvantages.
    Thanks for exploring this topic, Doug!


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