Placement Requests - Frequently Asked Questions

We recently held a School Council workshop where parents could learn about how schools created Classroom Models and about how students were placed in classrooms for the following year.  Here are some questions that arose…

 

1.      When will I know who my child’s teacher is?  I heard some children got a call or letter from their teacher and we did not. Is this a standard practice at Palmerston across grades? Or does this vary based on grade or teacher preference?

 

Here is a breakdown of how we inform students about their teacher for the following year.

 

Students entering JK and new-to-Palmerston Senior Kindergarten students: Parents will receive a letter in May or June stating their child’s classroom number for the fall.

 

Students entering SK: The following year’s classroom number will be included in the June Report Card.

Some parents have asked if it is possible to find out the name of their child’s teacher in advance.  Unfortunately, teachers can change over the summer and we do not want to set students up for disappointment on the first day. 

 

Students entering Grade 1: Parents will receive either a letter or a phone call the week before school starts, indicating who the teacher will be.  On the first day of school, Grade 1 teachers will be in the yard before school with nametags.  At the entry bell, Grade 1 teachers will take their individual classes directly to their classrooms.

 

Students entering Grades 2-6: Students come to school on the first day and line up outside the school by their 2016-2017 grades (we will have signs indicating where).  At the entry bell, students and staff enter the gym, introductions to the school, staff and the new school year are made, and then students are introduced to their teacher in the gym.

 

2.      My child is very anxious about who the teacher will be.  Can I find out beforehand who it is?

 

We treat each situation on a case by case basis. 

 

If a child has an Individual Education Plan, has been involved with School Services in regards to anxiety, or has had significant challenges over the previous year that have been discussed with the teacher and administration, we will, as a team, meet with parents to determine the best way to support.  This may include letting the child know who the teacher will be, developing a transition plan, helping the child develop and use strategies for managing anxiety, or letting the child know who the teacher will be.

 

Many students experience some level of anxiety in regards to the beginning of  school.  In most situations, this can be an opportunity for parents to teach their child skills and coping mechanisms for addressing anxiety.  If you have spoken with your child and they still feel anxious, please contact us.  We will be able to provide you with some ideas and strategies.

 

3.      My child has some social anxiety. I heard another parent made a request for their child to be with a friend.  Will all students receive the same consideration equitably?

 

Absolutely.   Each and every student is reviewed at Placement Meetings to ensure that they travel to the next grade with at least one friend.  Teachers spend many, many hours with their students over the year and they are very aware of who is friends with whom.  They use this knowledge to ensure that every student goes with a friend.  

 

On another note, we have had requests in the past for a student to be placed with a specific friend.  While we try to honour this request, we cannot guarantee it.  This can be for a number of reasons (e.g., the class might not be balanced with an equal number of girls and boys; therefore we need to move that specific friend to a different class to ensure balance). That being said, we will do everything to ensure that that child goes to a class with a friend.

 

Some students have been disappointed that their best friend is not with them.  This is an opportunity to remind your child that they can always see that student at recess, at lunch, outside of school, and during extracurricular clubs, activities and teams.  It is also an opportunity to teach strategies for making new friendships, and for strengthening existing ones.

 

We make every effort to ensure that the student placement process is as transparent and as equitable as possible.  There may be discussions in the playground or outside of the school that may contain inaccurate information.  If you have questions, please contact the school administration as soon as possible for clarification.  If other parents have questions, please encourage them to read this document on the website.

 

4.      My child is good friends with a particular child, but they distract each other in class, what can be done?

 

Friends distracting each other is a very universal classroom experience.   Typically, when the teacher intervenes, the misbehaviour will stop and the two students will refocus.  In these types of situations, we will often place two students together in the knowledge that, with teacher intervention (e.g., strategic seating, subtle reminders, parent involvement), the two students will be able to focus.

 

We certainly appreciate that there are rare times when, despite teacher intervention, the level of distraction is so high that it is having a negative impact on children’s academic achievement and the classroom environment.  The current teacher will be aware of the dynamic, and, if possible, the students will be placed in separate classrooms for the following year.  If this is not possible, we work closely with the teacher, students and families so that the students are able to learn strategies to focus appropriately in the classroom.

 

5.      Will my child fall behind in a split grade because (s)he is struggling academically?

 

Any child, regardless of whether they are in a combined or solid grade, will receive support if they are struggling academically.  This support will vary depending on the degree to which the child is struggling (e.g., informal, in-class teacher intervention up to a half-day Special Education Home School Program).  If you have concerns, or would like to learn more about how we support students academically at Palmerston, please contact the school office.

 

6.      Will my child learn what (s)he needs to learn when the teacher has to teach two separate grades?

 

Some parents believe that the teacher spends only a part of their time on one grade and the other part of their time on the other grade.   Many parts of the curriculum, however, share the same concept or “Big Idea.”  Please see the chart below for examples:

 

Mathematics

Grade 2

Grade 3

Identify, describe and create, through investigation, growing patterns and shrinking patterns involving addition and subtraction, with and without the use of calculators.

Extend repeating, growing and shrinking number patterns.

Count forward by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s, 10’s, and 25’s to 200, using number lines and hundreds charts, starting from multiples of 1, 2, 5, and 10 (count by 5’s from 15; count by 25’s from 125)

Count forward by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s, 10’s, and 100’s to 1000 from various starting points, and by 25’s to 1000 starting from multiples of 25, using a variety of tools and strategies (skip count with and without the aid of a calculator; skip count by 10’s using dimes)

Estimate / measure / record the distance around objects, using non-standard units

Estimate  / measure / record the perimeter of 2D shapes using standard units

Describe the probability that an event will occur through investigation with simple games and probability experiments and using mathematical language:

- Getting heads when tossing a coin

- Landing on red when spinning a spinner

Predict the frequency of an outcome in a simple probability experiment or game then perform the experiment, and compare the results with the predictions, using mathematical language

 

   

Language

Grade 2

Grade 3

Establish a personal voice in their writing, with a focus on using familiar words that convey their attitude or feeling towards the subject or audience

Establish a personal voice in their writing, with a focus on using concrete words and images that convey their attitude or feeling towards the subject or audience

 

There are 4 Science strands and 2 Social Studies strands for each grade.  Some parents have asked if teachers are required to teach specific 12 strands to a combined class (as opposed to teachers who have to teach only 6 strands to a single grade class).  In split grades, the teacher is able to combine many Science and Social Studies strands. 

 

Science

Grade 1/2

Grade 1/2

Needs and Characteristics of Living Things

Growth and Changes in Animals

Grade 3/4

Grade 3/4

Soils in the Environment

Rocks and Minerals

Grade 5/6

Grade 5/6

Forces Acting on Structures and Mechanisms

Flight

 

Regardless of the grade or topic, students from Grades 1-6 focus on these essential skills:



·        Scientific Inquiry

·        Experimentation Skills

·        Problem Solving Skills

·        Knowledge and Understanding

·        Thinking and Investigation

·        Communication Skills

·        Application Skills



Social Studies

Grade 1/2

Grade 1/2

The Local Community

Global Communities

Grade 3/4

Grade 3/4

Communities in Canada

Early Society

Grade 5/6

Grade 5/6

First Nations and Europeans in New France and Early Canada

Communities in Canada, Past and Present

 

In all grades, students are focussing on:

  • Formulating Questions
  • Gathering and Organizing Information
  • Interpreting and Analyzing
  • Evaluating and Drawing Conclusions
  • Communicating   

6.     My child has an IEP and needs support. How do you ensure that classrooms are balanced with students requiring extra support so that the teacher isn’t overwhelmed with managing extra learning or behavioural support?

 

During placement meetings, all teachers of a grade have the opportunity to review all of the students in that grade (e.g., all of the Grade 2 teachers review all of the Grade 2 students going into Grade 3).  Students who require extra support are identified and then distributed accordingly.  As well, students with IEP’s are equally distributed.  We take a great deal of care during our placement meetings to balance out classrooms as equitably as possible.

 

7.      My child is having a very challenging relationship with another student.  Can I request that they not be in the same class?

 

We look at each request on a case by case basis. 

 

A bit of background…

 

Teachers at Palmerston work hard to provide an environment that minimizes conflict in the classroom.  Some strategies include, in no particular order:



·        Clear expectations

·        Progressive discipline

·        Frequent monitoring and check-ins

·        Activities which build community

·        Physical classroom setup which promotes teacher monitoring

·        Peer mediation and anti-bullying activities

·        Communication with the student and parents around behaviour

·        Peer mediation if appropriate



We understand that, despite proactive measures, conflicts will still occur.  When two students are engaged in conflict, we ask, “How can we ensure that they are able to respectfully co-exist in the same classroom?”  There are many different ways to achieve this goal and moving classes is not always the first, or best, response. 

There are times when it is better to help children develop strategies to resolve conflicts on their own.  When the teacher is able to intervene successfully and the conflict is resolved, we will consider sending the students to the next grade together.

 

We also recognize that there are times when the challenge is too big for children to address on their own, and interventions are not successful.  When there are been significant, ongoing issues that have been having a negative impact on students’ learning and the classroom, we will consider separating students if possible.

  1. Is teacher X teaching X this year?

Teacher assignments involve many processes. Teachers have the opportunity to change classes and schools until late in the school year.  Teachers can also retire or take a leave at any time which can cause shifts subsequent shifts in teaching assignments. Any of these kinds of changes can occur at any given time before September and for this reason, we are not able to provide to provide an answer with 100% certainty.