Monday, 2 February 2015

Class list or no class list? That is the question

Yesterday, on a stunningly beautiful Christchurch day while sitting on the side of the school pool, my friend Ginnie Thorner and I boldly announced to another dear friend that we had decided to partake in the 28 Days of Writing challenge. She was enormously excited for us.......possibly more excited than we were! You see, our friend Natalie is a writer.....a very successful one at that.

"How awesome!" she squealed in her characteristically enthusiastic manner.
"Argh but its 28 days, Nats!" I wailed. "I don't have 28 ideas in my head!"

And so began a very fruitful brainstorming session where Natalie, a parent of four, threw topics at us at an alarming rate; all the things she had always wanted to ask her children's teachers' but never had the guts! The topics came thick and fast and by the end of it, we had a list of educational "hot potatoes" some of which I'm not sure I'll touch....."Public versus private?" anyone? "Single Sex versus Co-ed?" Not today......

But here's a quick and light post for the first day of the year......

Should schools announce the classes for the following year in December or wait until the first day of the new school year?

See? I told you this was heavy stuff......

But seriously, what does your school do? The school where I currently work sends out a class list with the child's class for the following year with the school report. This goes out on the Friday of the second to last week of school. The following Monday we have a school Christmas party and the students visit the teacher for the following year. My co-teacher and I have our current students leave advice for our new students- Haiku Deck or imovies or something offering pearls of wisdom which I share with them during that visit. I hope and believe that the girls leave knowing a little about their teachers and excited about the year ahead. In January, we send them a letter via snail mail (When did the cost of sending a letter go up to 80 cents by the way??!!) I think this system works well for us.

My son's school also arranges for the students to go and visit their new teacher late in the school year. No class list comes home and my son could only remember about five of the children who were in his class so I spent most of the summer asking, "Oooh is XXX in your class next year?" but that was really just me being nosey and certainly not vital knowledge! I LOVED that on that day in December, his teacher for this year sent home a fantastic imovie showing his current students working and explaining his philosophy. It was such a great idea and the parents really appreciated it. I might have to steal that idea!

One of Natalie's children is at a primary school where the learners find out who their new teacher is and who is in their class on the first day of school for the year. He was completely at ease with this way of doing things; not the least bit perturbed and actually had a great summer discussing with his family the merits of both teachers on offer! He was fully prepared for either scenario and completely nonplussed about finding out on Day 1.

The "first day" system is the system I remember when I was at primary school. I remember my dear friend and neighbour keeping our fingers crossed for a every waking hour of the week before school started in Standard 4, desperately hoping that we would be in the same class for the first time in our school careers. We weren't. Looking back on it, I can see clearly why the school kept us separated (ahem!) but I wonder if we would have been saved a lot of angst if we had have known way back in December that "it ain't goin' to happen!"   Maybe. Maybe not.

My strong feeling is that learners, especially anxious students, can benefit enormously from knowing who they will be working with the following year. The future-referencers amongst our students will be much happier knowing a little about what the year might look like. To be honest, I can't think of any cons for letting the students know in December who their teacher might be. I just hope it is not those dangerous 8 words that keep schools using this practice, "because that's the way we've always done it!"

What do you do at your school? If you have your own children, which system do you and your children prefer? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this very pressing educational matter! :)


  1. Food for thought. I went to a very small country school so always knew my teachers! It wasn't until I went to intermediate I had that first day scenario of waiting to find out my teacher. I have to admit I didn't like it but more for the fact I came a small school and only knew one other person and they separated us. I was like a fish out of water.
    Mr 6's school email us and do a visit. I'm a bit like you more wondering who is in his class.

    To be honest I think it's more to ease parents in rather than the child.

    Guess it gives way to one less hassle on day one.

    1. I agree, Ruth. I still can't see any great reason why a school wouldn't share this information before the school holidays. I'm trying to be open-minded though....;)