315. Class Placement

Teachers and administrators usually have a balancing act to do as the school year comes to an end – to place children in the classes they’ll be in come September. There are many factors that go into the process. Parents’ and children’s happiness is one of the factors, but there are usually people who are not happy with the way things turn out. There are children who want to be together, children who don’t, and children who want to be with children who don’t want to be with them. There are children who seem to be good for each other and children who don’t. Many combinations of children have their pros, cons, ups, and downs. Even if the wants and needs of children were the only considerations, class placement would be complicated.
But parents’ wants and needs are important, too. Parents can have strong opinions about whether certain children should be together, and which teachers are the best ones. And of course, parents tend to want the best for their children. And so some parents lobby to make sure their children end up with friends, or with teachers who teach well. There are parents who stay out of it, and leave the decisions up to the school. They have faith that school personnel will make wise decisions.
School personnel, too, have opinions about which child/child, teacher/child, and teacher/parent combinations will work well. But they must also focus on
other factors: how many children with academic, behavioral, social, and/or emotional strengths and weaknesses are in each class. Ideally, classes are somewhat balanced. Too much consideration to what parents and children want can result in unbalanced classes that are quite difficult to teach.
I began this paragraph by trying to tell you that class placement decisions don’t amount to a hill of beans – that life goes on, and we cope with changes and disappointments. But I deleted that line of thinking. I was going to ask you whether any class placement ever had much of an effect on you as you were growing up. It was going to be a rhetorical question that implied that the whole issue isn’t so important. But then I started thinking about the teachers and classmates who were part of my childhood. I thought about ways my life would have been different if I hadn’t had Mrs. Remavich for fifth grade, or if Pam Pedersen hadn’t been in my class in sixth grade.
Class placement makes a difference. It’s important to make sure classes are balanced, and the people who teach your children are usually in better positions to figure out how to find that balance, but I think the wants and needs of children and parents ought to be respected.

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