Placing students in a classroom--who should decide?

06:00


I am going to be wearing two hats for this blog post: teacher and parent.  Forgive me for flipping back and forth often--I am having a hard time with this topic really compartmentalizing my feelings based upon my role.

Being able to bring my son to school with me is amazing.  I am very fortunate and blessed that I was able to open-enroll him so I didn't have to worry about bus issues or daycare (my husband works nights and the shift is not always consistent.)

But, being the parent of a student in the school where I teacher is also hard.  I try to make sure my son sees little of me throughout the day--so both of us can focus on being present in school.  I have friendships, on various levels, with many of my colleagues.  My son is very comfortable in the building, almost too much so, we've had to draw some boundaries! :)

I don't know how other schools/teachers do it, and quite frankly, I have little knowledge of the entire "sorting of students" process, as I teach 5th grade so we just shuffle them off to the middle school.  But, I do know teachers in my building spend a lot of time come April/May placing students into their classrooms for the next year.  They have a lot of factors to consider, and in my opinion, parent input should not be a major one.

By parent input, I mean parents having the ability to weigh in with, to their student's current teacher as well as with the principal, any additional information/factors they feel should be considered when placing their student in a classroom.  How much weight is placed upon that parent's opinion is really up to the teacher/principal, but the fact that they have a say at all bothers me...

I recently was at my son's conference where his teacher asked me, "Have you thought about placement for next year?"  I wanted to tell her, that of course I had and he should be placed in {teacher's name}'s classroom.  However, instead I told her that I trust her to place him in the classroom that best fits his needs as a learner.

I see my son as a parent; I don't see how he functions in the classroom.  When I am finding those teachable moments (in the car finding numbers as we drive, counting coins to go buy a new comic book, reading Magic Treehouse books, etc.) I may be wearing my teacher hat, but my son is still just with me, not in a classroom of 20+ other students.  He is my complete focus.  His teacher knows him as a student in the classroom better than I ever could/can.

I know how it feels to have someone "request" a certain teacher over you.  From my experience, it does not feel good.  The times it has happened, I have found myself questioning my teaching skills/style, classroom management, etc.  For me, I looked at it with a  "What am I doing wrong?" lens.

It took some soul searching to really understand that if a colleague chose a teacher other than me for their student, or weighed in on that decision, that they felt that was the best fit for their student, based upon their limited knowledge of my classroom and me as a teacher.  Really, the same can be said of any parent who requests a teacher--they have an idea of what that teacher does in their classroom based upon their knowledge of walking through the halls, word-of-mouth, previous siblings being in that class, etc.  But, they haven't sat in that classroom for 170+ school days to experience it to it's fullest.

I posted something on Instagram a few days ago about this and got a wide range of response!  Some teachers said parents have absolutely no input, while others told me their classroom roster fluctuates a lot (not just before the year starts, but mid-year!) because of parent requests.  Now, I know there are always going to be some exceptions, their may be differences when it comes to grade level/subjects taught, etc., and sometimes things are looked at on a case-by-case basis.  But, I have a hard time knowing, as a parent and a teacher, that a student was placed into that classroom by the parent.

As a parent-teacher, I have a lot of faith in my son's teachers, and obviously the profession, and I show that through my respect of their decisions and comments/discussions at home in front of or with my son.  I value the knowledge the teachers have of my son in their classroom setting, and know that they want what is best for him in his future as a student and learner.  So for me, personally, it seems a little backwards that parents have really any control over choosing their student's future teacher(s).

How do things work in your school?  As a parent, have you ever requested a teacher or given input?

**I would like to note that I talked with many other teachers AND parents about this issue before writing this post.  While it is written by me, and reflects my thinking and beliefs, it did involve the discussion and input of many individuals.  I love my colleagues as well as my teacher network and parent friends who have supported me with MY decision and also challenged my thinking/played devil's-advocate!**








by Sara from Draz's Class

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