May 20, 2016
Dear Parents and Families,
The placement of students each year is a task that our staff takes very seriously. I’d like to share with you the process and criteria that the teachers and I use when we are setting up classes for the new school year. It is a lengthy, complicated and painstaking process, but we believe that is essential to create classes that are well balanced, manageable for teachers and acceptable to the majority of our families.
Teacher Knowledge of Students
After working together for a year (over 1000 hours) teachers have in depth knowledge of students' personalities, learning styles, academic strengths and weaknesses, friendships and possible social difficulties. All of this information is valuable when placing students.
We know that students are often nervous about starting a new year in a new classroom, so we try to have at least one familiar face in each child's new class. However, we also know that it is sometimes a disadvantage to have too many friends together in one class - it discourages making new friends and broadening a child's circle of casual friends.
It is important to us that each class at a grade level look and act like each of the other classes. That is, we strive to balance girls, boys, health concerns, behavior concerns, students in the Resource program, students in the Speech program, ethnicity, academic strengths, and academic weaknesses. In a couple of cases we cluster our students to help optimize their success, specifically GATE and English Learners are clustered in groups.
Combination classes are often inevitable because of enrollment and staffing requirements. For example, when four first grade classes are full, we need to begin a fifth class, but since we do not have enough to fill the class, some second graders must be added.
Combination classes are unique. Students in combination classes are strong in terms of academic success, have shown an ability to get along well with others, and have minimal exceptional needs regarding health or behavior. This is true for both the students in the higher grade and in the lower grade in a combination class. Our goal is to provide an accelerated learning opportunity for these students. Teachers in combination classes are skilled at differentiating curriculum and meeting the needs of individual students. We do not want children
feeling that they are somehow less adequate than their peers because they are in a multi-grade classroom. In fact, the opposite is true. Students in combination classes have proven that they can succeed in this stimulating learning environment. Students interact well with their classmates and enjoy this challenging and enriching experience.
I hope this information is helpful. Because of the many variables and delicate balance of each class, teachers cannot guarantee a particular teacher/placement for any child. Class placements are a team effort.
We do not accept requests for specific teachers. However, I do welcome and encourage parent input about the types of learning environment their child would thrive in. This form will be available in the office beginning April 24th, which gives parents the opportunity to tell us information about their child that can assist with placement. It is NOT mandatory to return this form. However, all forms need to be returned to the office by June 10th in order to be considered.
Again, let me reassure you that the teachers and I have your child's best interest in mind. Our goal is to create an optimum learning environment for all of the students at Knob Hill.
Principal, Knob Hill Elementary