Placement Information for Students entering Grades 2 to 5 in Fall, 2020
May 5, 2020
Dear Birch Meadow Families in Kindergarten to Grade 4:
This has been a most unusual year for all of us, families, students, and educators. As we finish up the current school year in a distance learning model, we have to begin planning for the next school year with incomplete information about what the fall will look like in terms of learning. This is not an easy task.
The Birch Meadow School Leadership Team, (composed of the principal, representatives from grade levels, and a special education teacher), has been meeting regularly to plan for the current and upcoming year. For the past three weeks we have been working on placement for the 20-21 school year. After several meetings we have made some atypical (for Birch Meadow) decisions.
For the 20-21 school year, students in 1st to 4th grade will move to the next grade and their new teacher with their current class cohort.
Because we are adding a 1st grade section, to reduce class size, kindergarteners will be regrouped from three sections to four sections.
These decisions are the result of careful weighing of the pros and cons. Ultimately, the decision to move students with their class cohort in Grades 1 to 4 was made because we believe it is in the best interest of those students. These students did not have a full year with their prior year class and the ending of school was abrupt. In video meetings with teachers, students are expressing how much they miss their classmates. We believe it will decrease student worry if they know the students in their upcoming class. Furthermore we do not know how the new year will begin or if we will have to undertake distance learning intermittently during the 20-21 school year. We feel that having the consistency of a classroom community of learners will help mitigate some of the concern about what school leading up to and during the upcoming year.
For kindergarteners moving into 1st grade, it is not possible to stay with the same group of students due to the increase in grade level sections, which will decrease the number of students in each class. We ran through several models trying to make this possible and ultimately could not make it work out. This year, we are prioritizing placement criteria differently than we have in past years. In our usual placement process we balance classrooms by academic, emotional/behavioral, and social connections criteria. As we place this year’s kindergarten to 1st graders, we will balance classrooms first by social connections and interests, inside and outside of school. Kindergarten families will be receiving a survey in a separate email to help us with this process.
Additionally, the transition between school years will be happening differently from past years. The School Leadership Team and faculty are developing plans for the transition to the 20-21 school year. In this transition planning, we are considering ways for students to have closure with their current grade level teachers and have time to interact with their receiving teachers. Please give us time to work on this as we are navigating the same unfamiliar educational waters that you are navigating.
When we began discussing placement processes for the 20-21 school year, the School Leadership Team and staff did not know we would move in this direction. I know that you must be wondering about the family placement forms you submitted for your child. It probably feels right now that we asked for your thoughts on your child and now are not considering those thoughts. Those forms, with your careful thoughts and insights, will be shared with your child’s teacher for next year and that information will be used by next year’s teachers to inform their work with your child.
I know that there will be many responses to this information: relief, happiness, annoyance, worry to name a few. I am willing to talk with any family member, adult or child, who would like to ask questions or share concerns about this placement process. I have currently scheduled two sessions for adults and children to meet with me. These are Wednesday, May 6 from 12:00 to 1:30 and Friday, May 8th from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. I will schedule more sessions if there is demand. If you would like to talk with me, please email me the day you would prefer and I will send you a Teams Invitation to a 10-minute meeting. If, after that meeting, you feel you need more time, we can schedule a longer meeting.
As always, please know that the educators at Birch Meadow School are working tirelessly to provide your child with the best educational experience possible in these very unusual times. I see their hard work behind the scenes on a daily basis and it makes me proud to be part of this community of educators and learners.
Information for Students Entering Grade 1 in Fall, 2020
Hello Kindergarten Families,
As you know, we are continuing to navigate unusual and strange educational waters. Earlier today you received an email about the placement process for Birch Meadow School for the 20-21 school year. As you are aware, students in Grades 1 to 4 are moving with their current classes to the next grade’s teacher. This plan does not work for our current kindergarten students because we are increasing to four sections in Grade 1 (from the current three sections).
As a school staff, we are interested in creating classrooms that feel especially safe for students next year and one way to do that is to focus on social connections of students. To help us with this task, the placement team is looking for information about your child’s peer connections outside of Birch Meadow School. If you have information to share about these peer connections, please complete this survey (Link to Survey) about your child’s positive social connections outside of school. This information will help us as we create classroom communities for the upcoming year. A link to the survey will be posted in the Kindergarten google classroom by Thursday morning.
This is a very unusual year for all of us and we are modifying many school processes, including placement, to meet new circumstances. Please know that at the heart of all our decisions lies our goal of creating a safe learning environment for your children. Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns you have.