Thursday, July 2, 2009

Look Forward

Today is the midpoint of the year, the fulcrum of 2009. So, is the year half over, or is there half a year to go?

I spent part of this day with the sixth grade counselor and the team leader of the other sixth grade team. We had 200 placement cards, one for each student we expect next year. They had been filled out by twenty or so fifth grade teachers from eleven elementary schools and on them there was information about math and language arts placement, study habits and social skills, native language and special education needs. In addition, there is room on each card for the teacher to write a comment. Every year, it is these we enjoy most.

It was our task to divide them fairly into two even, heterogeneous teams, and so we spent the afternoon sorting and resorting by elementary school, achievement level, gender and race, keeping count and keeping tallies. This is an annual event, and when we make the teams, the cards are just cards to us; we don't know the kids, yet, so at times the process takes on the feeling of a game or a backroom draft, with questions like, "Do you want the boy who uses his intelligence for the wrong reasons or the one who can be disrespectful at times?" or "I have a couple of smart girls here, why don't you take one each?"

Eventually, the cards ended up in two piles, and the teams were pretty well set for next year. I can't wait to see how we did.


  1. That's cool that you guys do it that way. For us, it's apparently totally random and done by computer, so the two seventh grade teams this year, for example, were hugely inequitable - one team got 75% of the sixth grade behavior problems and the other team got 75% of the sixth grade rockstars. Your way sounds way more interesting; does it continue for the higher grade levels?

  2. Some years the teams seem more equitable than others, but we can never complain that we didn't have a voice in them, and we learn from our mistakes, too.

    Our counselors loop with the kids, and they do the scheduling for seventh and eighth grade. For some reason, it's not quite as a big a deal, though.

    Thanks for reading!