Today at our afternoon PD we actually did something useful – we put together the class list for next year. Each grade, except for the 8th since obviously most of those students will be moving on next year, rearranged their current students into new classes for next year. Some teachers were moaning and groaning about this, but I think it was a fantastic idea. We have a small school, only about 120 kids in each grade, which means that we know the kids REALLY well. It also means that the kids know each other really well, especially since they travel as ‘pods’. A ‘pod’ is basically a class that stays together for all the core subject areas, and they split and mix with other kids for electives. We do this because it makes scheduling easier, but it also makes it so the kids are really sick of each other by the end of the year.
I figure that if the Almighty Administration had to make up the classes, they would just be putting kids into groups basically at random. This is what is done at many schools and kids have been surviving it for decades, but we have the opportunity to make their lives, not to mention the next teachers’ lives, better by putting a wee bit of thought into where they go. We can separate problem kids, place them based on teacher and student personality, group certain kids to make it easier to schedule pull-out sessions for the ESL/ELL/SETSS/speech therapist teachers, and put kids together that we think would be a good mix.
Arranging the ‘difficult’ kids was a pain in the butt since they have to go into one of 4 classes and there were about 13 kids on our ‘naughty’ list. It was really just a matter of guessing which new combinations would make the least amount of trouble. Then we had to make sure we were balancing boys and girls, clearly something that wasn’t thought of this year since I had 22 girls and 10 boys in one of my classes while the other team had a class that was just the opposite. We bargained for and traded kids and had to rearrange a few times based on personal preference, but we managed to get it done in about an hour and with no major arguments.
Is this going to work? I have no idea, but it can’t be any worse than just placing them randomly and hoping for the best.