Those dreaded placement meetings! I still don’t quite know how it happened, but somehow the organization, scheduling and chairing of our annual placement meetings became my responsibility at our school! We always did our placement meetings at the end of June but by September we usually found ourselves re-structuring many of the classes as the transient nature of our student population often brought significant enrollment changes. To avoid this duplication, many schools have transitioned to September placement meetings, usually sending the students back to their previous year teacher for the first 2 – 3 days until the new classes can be formed. Probably the one drawback to September meetings would be if a teacher transfers to another school and is no longer there to provide input on the best placement for their students.
When I arrived at my school, the system being used to place students in their next grade classroom was time consuming and inefficient so I decided something had to be done . . . to maintain my sanity, if for no other reason! I developed a very visual system which I hope you will find as effective as we did at our school.
Materials needed: light coloured construction paper, red and blue felt pens, masking tape
1. Cut the construction paper in half, lengthwise, and then into 4 cm (1.5 in) strips.
2. Working from the most current class lists and using a different coloured construction paper for each teacher at a specific grade level, print each child’s name on the strips, red for girls and blue for boys. (Eg. if you have three Grade 4 sending teachers, one would get yellow cards, one light blue and one gray)
3. Schedule a grade level meeting for the sending teachers (for a K – 6 school, you will need 6 meeting times – I usually did morning, lunch and after school for two days). Obtain the information on projected numbers for each receiving class from your principal and provide him/her with the meeting schedule.
4. Give each teacher their set of cards and have them mark the reading level in the top right corner ( H (high), M (middle) or L (low)) prior to their meeting. We also put an asterik in the top left corner to identify those students who may require additional support or currently had a CEA attached to them. Ask teachers to bring any valid parent requests to the meeting.
5. For the meeting, print each receiving teacher’s name across the top of your board, along with the number of students they are to receive. Place two long strips of making tape under each teacher’s name, sticky side out.
6. When the teachers arrive for the meeting instruct them to place the student cards on the masking tape under the name of the teacher they would like each student to go to, one strip for the girls and one for the boys.
7. Once this is done, sit back and take a look – you will have a very visual picture of the new classes. You will quickly see boy/girl ratios, the number of H, M and L students in each class, the number of at-risk/special needs/E/G students in each class and teachers will be able to identify students who should be kept together or separated. This stage generates a lot of discussion between teachers as they try to create the best possible classes and meet the needs of each individual student. Changes can be made quickly and easily by simply moving cards from one strip of tape to another. When everyone is satisfied, have each teacher copy down one class list to be given to the secretary for typing. I usually flipped the strips over and kept them for a few days just in case we needed to re-visit any of them. If you have split classes, bring the appropriate strip out when doing the other grade level.
Whether you do meetings in September or June, both are very busy times for teachers. My staff and administrators loved this system – I had everything prepared for them ahead of time and we could usually complete each grade level meeting in 20 – 30 minutes. Follow these steps and your placement meetings will go smoothly and quickly!