April 29th, 2016
Letter from Principal Fetterly
Dear Franklin Families:
As we move into the last few weeks of school, teachers begin to prepare class assignments for the next school year. I thought it might be informative and beneficial to provide the community with the factors and protocols for assigning students to a particular classroom.
Teachers prepare the classroom assignments in the spring. The principal does not make class assignments. The principal reviews the class lists for balance and accuracy, and finalizes the process. The principal respects the expertise of the teacher who has had the important advantage of instructing and caring for each child for 180 days. In the fall, the assignments may be readjusted per district directions for such things as adding a class, eliminating a class, redirecting an overage of students to another site, adding a combo in an effort not to redirect students, adding new students, etc. Any readjustments in the fall occur during the first twenty days of school. We try to make adjustments as soon as possible rather than waiting. These adjustments are made when new factors are introduced or the district needs to make adjustments as students exit and enter the district and numbers change on the bigger district scale, not just at Franklin. During enrollment you are notified by the district that changes may be required. Please note this is not a twenty day period for parents to make requests for class changes.
A number of factors are considered when building and balancing classes: gender, academic standing in each subject area, English Language status, GATE status (gifted), special needs supports such as speech, health issues, academic supports, birthdate (especially in K), twins, ethnicity/race diversity, behavior/citizenship/self-management issues, not placing students in split classes in consecutive years (although not a guarantee), and a history of negative interaction between specific students. These are the primary considerations and occasionally there may be additional factors that are not common. Combination or split classes have additional considerations: independence, ability to operate with older or younger students, the child’s confidence: socially, academically, emotionally, and classroom management to name a few.
Every child entering Franklin whether a Franklin veteran or a new student are all part of the Franklin family and are considered equally as they are assigned. The best classes are designed and balanced by the teachers. Just as we all have a public and private face, students have a classroom and home face. Teachers observe and evaluate student habits and behaviors in the classroom. They use this information in addition to the factors mentioned above to design the most balanced classrooms possible. All of the teachers at Franklin are highly qualified, thoughtful, and deeply care about their students. Designing classrooms is a complex task and many hours are spent preparing classes for the next year. When you support the classrooms as assigned, you support your child’s opportunities for success. I can also say the opposite is true.
Requests for teachers do not factor in all of the elements considered. They are by their very nature concerned with one child in mind and not the group. In my career I have experienced a few very unbalanced classes often impacted by requests. Unfortunately, unbalanced classrooms are difficult and not optimal for any student including the requestor. Requests although well intended and seemingly harmless do not meet any of the criteria listed above for creating classrooms which are planned to meet student needs and maximize student progress. Additionally, requests have the potential of creating disadvantageous circumstances that disrupt everyone. I have seen many children receive the requested teacher and not be happy with the situation after all. Children operate best in a well-planned classroom. It is your parental opportunity to help your child build the confidence and ability to be successful with any class assignment he or she receives.
I am always truly happy when you get the class assignment you desire. However, when I was teaching, I remember one student told me in June that he had not wanted my class but it had been his best year so far. Who knows what wonderful experience your child may have in a balanced classroom with a conscientious, caring teacher, even if it wasn’t his or her first choice. Learning to cope with the world as it comes and dealing with disappointment is a muscle we must build to be successful in life. The door is open for you to engage and to support your child’s success in a school year. I hope you take the opportunity to enter this door. Your child will develop academic skills, social skills, and personal mettle when you combine forces with your child’s teacher.
Principal Franklin School