Don't tell me I have "that kid" next year...

11:00 AM

School is out for many across the US, or winding down for some.  As we pack up our classrooms and books, recycle extra papers and clean out cupboards, one thing that teachers are often asked to do is make class lists for the following year.

Now, I don't know how every school does it, but I know at my school they try to have a balance of girls and boys, if possible, and cluster GEL/Gifted students into small groups, place ELLs in specific classrooms for co-teaching/pull-outs, etc.  The ELL, GEL, and SpEd teachers often make the first placements, based on students' needs, and then the rest are meticulously placed to balance out each class.

As a 5th grade teacher, I never had to do this job.  The 4th grade teachers paced students, I got the list, and I ran with it, labeling everything in site.  Sometimes, things changed over the summer with moves or whatnot, so we often didn't get to see our official list until August, before students came in for open house/assessments.

As I talk to teacher friends across the nation, many are getting these lists or being told by another teacher "I put so-and-so into your classroom."  This seems innocent enough, but along with talking to teachers about who may be in their class next year comes phrases like:

  • "Oh you just wait until s/he does (behavior problem)..."
  • "You're going to have a tough year with so-and-so/parents/group/etc..."
  • "Sorry, I just didn't know where to put (name) and you always know how to handle (behavior) so I stuck her/him with you."
  • "I couldn't handle (student) so I am glad they are out of my classroom..."
Are you catching my drift here?

Fellow teachers, I am begging you not to do this.

By talking about students with their next year's teacher, you are setting both that student and teacher up for failure.

Summer is supposed to be a time of re-energizing and rejuvenation for educators.  How many of us want to go into break DREADING the year that is to come?

Labeling students in this way, or giving the next teacher "insight" may seem helpful, but really can be detrimental.  Stereotypes and preconceived notions are made and, as humans, we react or think differently to students and situations than we would normally.  Just because a student was "that" child in your classroom doesn't mean they have to be in mine.  We are different teachers, with different styles and personalities, who are going to build relationships differently with these kiddos we have for the next 180 or so days.  By saying that a child did not succeed in your classroom you are also, in a way, saying a lot about your classroom management, or lack there of.

There is a time and place to share this information, for sure.  IEPs, notes on placement cards about behaviors/incentives that worked, etc., all help a teacher run their classroom.  But there really is no place for the talk that occurs in school hallways or on the playground about "next year."

Let's give each student a fresh start with the new year.  They may have grown or matured over the summer.  Every child deserves the chance to be the best version of themselves each year.

**If you want to see what really should be written on placement cards, check out Gerry Brooks's video**

So, let's all vow to go into summer and really enjoy it!  Put the talk about classes and next year to the side, at least for a bit, and focus on recharging ourselves!

by Sara from Draz's Class

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