As this school year begins to wind down, preparations begin for the new school year which is already on the horizon. While SBAC testing, the school carnival, and science fair projects are now taking center stage, our conversations are already shifting into budget decisions, teacher assignments, and curriculum implementation. Near the top of our “to do” list, of course, will be planning class assignments for the 2019-20 school year.
The process of creating the following year’s classes is always a challenging one, and I want to make sure that parents understand the thought and care that we put into our decision making. The first thing teachers do is consider the profile of each of their current students – how are they performing in math and English/Language Arts; do they have any specific learning or behavior challenges; are they English Language Learners; what is their gender, and ethnicity? Do they need intervention services, such as speech or learning center support? Are there specific students with whom they work well, or students from whom they should be separated? Have they ever been retained? Are they able to work independently? Do they have problems with attendance?
The current year’s teachers then meet during May to discuss creating the following year’s classes. I meet with each grade-level team and we discuss what class configurations we need to plan for – how many classes, and who is likely to be teaching those classes. Will the classes be straight grades, or combination classes? Often we have to plan for more than one scenario if the numbers are not clear – and sometimes we have to plan for unknown teachers. As we place students in classes for next year, we do our best to create balanced groupings so that each class will have a mix of students that is roughly equivalent to the other classes at that grade level. We try to make sure that no particular subgroup is disproportionately represented, and we try to make sure that our groupings are made in such a way that will allow each class to function well as a collaborative learning community.
Sometimes parents have information that is useful to this process, and I encourage them to talk directly to their child’s teacher if that is the case. While parents are sometimes interested in requesting specific teachers, I strongly urge you to resist this temptation. The chemistry between a particular child and teacher is often unpredictable; in addition, changes often occur during the summer months that cause teachers to move to a different school, to change grade levels, or to retire. We are never able to guarantee a specific teacher, and parent requests are only one of many factors that are considered in student placements. The teachers and I work very hard to create next year’s classes, and we ask that parents respect the process. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.