Below is a letter which I sent to Margo Tait Superintendent of Schools of the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board. I know some will disagree with my stand on split classes, but I have seen them work very well in this situation. I know some will also think this is a pretty minor aspect of our school system to get a reaction, but random changes to something that has been proven to work for, what appears to be, no real reason bother me.
Hello Mrs. Tait,
I'm writing to hopefully voice my concern and get the reasoning behind a change which is coming into effect next year in the French Immersion program at New Minas Elementary.
Currently I have two daughters in the program. One will be entering grade 3 and the other grade 1, so these changes don't greatly effect my family right now. We do however have a son who will be entering the program in a couple more years.
For the past number of years the French Immersion children would be in a split primary/one class for the first two years and keep the same teacher (when possible) for both those years. I know both my children really adapted well to this structure. Especially when entering primary they had children there already who knew the routine and they could relate to.
My daughter who is going in grade 3 has excelled in this environment academically and it also helped build her self esteem when she was in grade 1. As she knew the routine she was able to assist and help out with the new primary students. My daughter who is entering grade 1 was looking forward to do the same with some of her younger friends who were coming in behind her.
After speaking to the teachers I can only see this putting more strain on an already strained system. With all the cuts which are coming from the Government, wouldn't we want to do everything we can to make things easier for the teachers to teach our children, using resources already available, instead of making things more difficult?
I know having half the class already knowing the the teachers routine, already understanding some of the french, it would be a lot easier than with a full group of primary children who are completely new to school and french.
Some of the teachers tried to explain the logic behind this decision to me but it didn't seem to make sense to me. They told me that if the class got to a certain size than it couldn't be a split class anymore. So if I understand it properly, now that the program has grown you want to give them even more brand new students in one class. To me the opposite would make much more sense.
I'm not always a fan of split classes as my oldest daughter (not in Immersion) was in some previously at higher grade levels and I did not find it was a benefit to her. However at this lower grade level, and in the French Immersion program, I think it makes perfect sense. In my experience it helps the children academically, gives the opportunity to build leadership skills, and makes life a little easier for the teachers as well. I would say logically if the teachers are having an easier job, than it would follow that they would be able to teach more effectively.
If there is some aspect or reasoning behind this change which I may have missed, I would love to have a better understanding.