Dear Parents and Guardians:
As we head into Spring, we start thinking ahead to next year and working on our class placements. Class placements are one of the most critical, deliberate, and time-consuming tasks we tackle. It takes six weeks for us to create, review, and edit lists that foster the best possible learning environment for Olander students, and often we have to revisit lists when students move in or out of our school. There is considerable thought and effort that goes into creating class lists that offer balance in terms of academics, behavior, gender, friendships, special education and 504 needs, English Language support, peer dynamics, and overall chemistry of classes. It may seem simple to request a certain teacher or peers, but when you consider that we work very hard to balance classrooms for all of the above factors, it becomes extremely difficult to manage the added dimension of parent requests and still maintain classroom balance. We ask that you trust us in the process that we are sharing with you below:
Classroom Placement Policy:
End of March: Teachers make inquiries regarding students who may be moving, and we ask that you let us know if your child will not be with us the following year before class lists are made. Final decisions regarding retention should also be made at this time.
First week of April: Classroom teachers complete individual student profiles that give information regarding students’ academic strengths, work habits, family involvement, behavior, social emotional skills, gender, and special needs. Teachers, special education providers, and the counselor meet to sort students into classrooms based on this information; numbers from these student profiles are plugged into a spreadsheet to ensure classroom balance.
Last Day of School: Meet Your Teacher. Class lists are posted, and students visit their classroom for the following year, meeting their teacher and hearing highlights about the upcoming year.
Parent Input on Classroom Placement:
May parents request a particular teacher? Honoring parent requests makes it impossible to maintain balanced classrooms, and thus the answer is no. Parents have a two-week window to provide a written letter or email to the principal should they feel that their child has a unique need or extenuating circumstance. The parent may describe a teaching style that is helpful or a peer to avoid, but specific teacher requests will not be honored. Do not feel obligated to provide written input. The two-week window to provide information regarding extenuating circumstances this year is March 28- April 11.
Other Frequently Asked Questions:
May I request a class transfer for my child once class lists have been posted? No, this is not possible. Changing even one child on a class list creates a big domino effect and a whole host of unanticipated consequences, affecting the balance in academics, behavior, chemistry, and friendships in all grade level classes.
Why may it seem like one classroom is not as balanced as the others? We do our very best to create equity, and according to our profile numbers, the classrooms are balanced as much as possible at the end of the school year. While the numbers represent the fairest balance, we can’t always anticipate students who move in and out of our school before school starts. One new student arriving in August with more significant needs can change the makeup of a classroom. We also can’t always anticipate the chemistry that occurs when new combinations of students are formed.
May I request that my child be placed with a friend? While we understand that not being placed with a friend can be very stressful for your child, we study our class lists to try to ensure that your child has at least one friend in the class or new like-minded peers that we think they could connect with. One of the great features of our Olander culture is that students are shuffled around from year to year to intentionally promote new friendships and create an atmosphere where all students can support and befriend each other. Olander staff members trust in this same process for their own children. If you have an extenuating circumstance regarding peers your child would do well with as well as peers your child should avoid, you may let the principal know within our two-week period.
If my child has been separated from a peer, will that separation remain throughout the Olander years?
We may give students a year or two of space from a peer they do not do well with, but considering the other factors that go into balancing classes, we aren’t able to continue to track peer combinations over the years. We also know that kids mature and change and are often better together in subsequent years.
Will my younger child have the same teachers my older child had?
We aim to make the kindergarten transition as smooth as possible by assigning, for the most part, the same teacher an older sibling had. After kindergarten, it is merely coincidence if your children have the same teachers. All of our teachers are amazing!
Thank you for entrusting us to do our best in this challenging but meaningful process.
Mark Strasberg, Principal