Today is the seventh day in school this year. We are in our second week. I know tomorrow is October, but I do think that we can be mindful that the school year has only just begun (sounds like a song).
A lot has gone on these past seven days. I have been able to visit all the classes on my daily walkabouts, and I am starting to learn the names of all our new students.
Teachers are getting to know their students, and classes are starting to gel.
The school day will end soon, and I am off for a final round of class visits for the day. I will share more soon.
Today, we will be moving our students (grades 1 to 7) into their new classes. The first full day of school can often be filled with a variety of emotions related to the new classes: excitement, worry, elation, disappointment.
Teachers and support staff have spent a lot of time reviewing all our students and worked to create balanced classes that will, hopefully, ensure that all children have a chance for a successful school year. These meetings are harder than you may think. For every child, there are multiple issues to consider:
- What is his learning style?
- Who are her friends?
- How many girls are there?
- Will this class need extra support for learning needs?
- Are the classes balanced in terms of number of students?
- Will a child have a teacher for a second year?
- Were there any placement considerations raised by parents to consider?
- Who has moved over the summer and how will that affect the class composition?
We use our Student Placement Process to guide us as we develop the classes. Parent input can be helpful, and parents had opportunities to share their thoughts as outlined in the Student Placement Process. Please be aware that there are some requests that we cannot honour, as they may not be possible (i.e. only combined classes and no single grade options). Other requests may be too detailed (i.e., with these friends, but not with these children). Still others may not happen as they came with direct teacher requests (i.e. “Please place my child with Mrs. X.”).
There are limits as to what we consider for class placements. We are not able to consider the individual history of a child in combined classes. We do not always know if children have changed friendships over the summer. We build the classes based on the information we have.
I am very proud to be part of so many thoughtful discussions about our class placements.
When you see your child after school today, ask him or her about the day. Be curious about their class, and please help your child see that the class will be a good place for learning, sharing and growing. If your child is upset, please be thoughtful in how you respond to any concerns. How we react when children express anxiety can go a long way to helping children handle disappointment.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s placement, please start with your child’s teacher. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me and make an appointment.
Today will be an excellent day.
I’m happier now. Once again, Cleveland Elementary will be filled with all the joyful noises that come from having children and staff in the building. Once again, teachers are preparing to teach our students. Once again, I can wander the halls and visit classes (actually, I did that during the strike, but it was really boring).
This week we will organize all students into their classes. Students will re-connect with friends, discover new friends, and in some cases, be a little bit upset because they may not be in the same class with some friends. The first week often finds us helping children (and sometimes parents) deal with many emotions related to class placement or class organization.
Thoughts about Combined Classes
We will have combined classes. Language is a very powerful tool, and I feel strongly that we have combined classes, not “split” classes. Combined classes do not have to have separate learning activities for each grade at all times. Some exercises and assignments will be different, and some will be the same. Teachers are not “splitting” their students into two groups. Each class will become one learning group, where students and staff will work collaboratively to create an excellent learning environment for everyone. Teachers use a variety of learning strategies and assessment strategies to deal with the varied learners in each class.
Sometimes we get stuck on the notion that everyone should work with only people in their own grade. Why? Combined classes give us the opportunity to allow children to work with people who may be younger or older than they are. In my experience, I have not often worked with people who are the same age as myself. I think we have one other 47 year-old in the school (but I will never say who, as about 90% of the Cleveland staff is female, and no way I am sharing their ages here).
Teaching is a wonderfully complex job, and every class presents the opportunities to work with a variety of learners. If you want to talk about combined classes or class organization, I am available.
I am looking forward to seeing my wonderful staff work with all our little learners in all classes. It will be an awesome year.
Today is an interesting day for a news junkie. There are two big news stories for me to follow, and both involve a vote. In British Columbia, teachers are voting on whether or not to ratify the tentative deal reached earlier this week, while in Scotland, they are voting on independence from Great Britain.
For both of these stories, I gathered most of my news from twitter and other online news sources. On Twitter one can find same rather “interesting” thoughts and opinions expressed by many people on all sides of the issues. Many of them I won’t share here. Actually, I won’t share any here.
I am not sure what outcome I want from the Scotland independence vote. I have no real connection to the country, except for a certain type of drink I like.
I definitely have a greater interest in the teachers’ ratification vote. I would love to see my staff tomorrow, and students on Monday.
I’m going back to Twitter to find out what’s happening now.
I was pleased this morning to wake to the news that a tentative deal has been reached. Teachers and CUPE staff members seem more upbeat after a lengthy time on the picket line.
At this time, we do not know details. We will need to continue to be patient as we wait for more information, for the agreement to be ratified, and then wait instructions on how our year will begin.
Our classes are ready for teachers and students. Desks are set up, and chairs are organized. The photocopier is working and there is plenty of paper on hand. We will be ready for the first day.
We will take time to organize our classes, as we have had a number of changes in student enrollment over the summer. First day plans are being developed. Please check your email and monitor our school web site.
For Cleveland parents, school supply lists are on-line.
See you soon.