What a start to the year! Is it really November?
I feel like I’m finally able to pick my head up, take a deep breath, and have a look around.
It was a very nice start to the year, but a little complicated with so many students showing up! While it is a great problem to have, it’s never easy having to rearrange the entire school to create a new division. Nevertheless, I was happy to see how smoothly it all went. I was able to have several conversations with parents about grade splits and their worries about kids getting too much or too little learning depending on which split they were in.
I found myself educating parents on the fact that being in a grade means nothing except for being the same age as your peers.
I know that sounds a little weird.
We all came up in the school system where we were led to believe that if we are in a certain grade, everyone in that grade would be operating at the same level. But that is not true at all – it never has been. We know beyond any doubt that a grade simply means that kids are about the same age. Learning is on a continuum – hopefully, (and ideally) it is a lifelong one. In any class, there are ranges in abilities. That means, for example, in a grade 4 class, you can have kids reading at a grade 7 level and other kids reading at a Kindergarten level. We can’t possibly expect them to do the same things. So being in a split grade, multi-grade, or straight grade ends up being pretty much…..meaningless.
It’s about teaching kids where they are at and building them up from there.
In the last decade or so, we have finally turned away from ‘everyone gets the same thing’ and have moved more towards looking at learners as individuals – this is where can address the needs of everyone in the class much, much better. This means we challenge the student that reads at a grade 7 level and bring the Kindergarten reader up to a grade 1 or 2 level by the end of the year. When we give kids what they need at their level, they do much better in school in every way possible. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for that Kindergarten reader coming to school every day and totally struggling or that grade 7 reader being totally bored in class. More often than not they end up with me in the office due to acting out in class – no wonder, they weren’t getting what they needed and got frustrated!
We need to understand that split grades don’t matter much at the end of the day. We need to understand that there isn’t any real advantage or disadvantage if a student is in the lower or higher grade in a split class. Education is going more and more towards individualized and more unique programming for learners than ever before.
If you have comments, questions, or queries about this topic, please feel free to contact me at the school anytime
NEXT TIME: the new BC Curriculum