The end of the school year always serves as a perfect time for reflection and planning. In fact, many building administrators use meeting time at the end of the year to have teachers meet to discuss students who they will be teaching in September.
When I was in the classroom, the fifth grade team would always meet with the fourth grade team to discuss the incoming students for grade five. I would have an opportunity to see my class list for the following year, and touch base with the fourth grade teachers to discuss the strengths and needs of the students.
I always enjoyed knowing who my students would be, and thinking about which of the fourth grade students I already knew who would be my students, but one part of this meeting drove me absolutely crazy. It was the number of times that one of the fourth grade teachers said something negative about one of their students that would be coming to me.
Usually, it was couched as some sort of positive advice that would help me.
“Be sure not to seat him anywhere near your desk. He can be really annoying.”
I always wanted to get to know each student on my own. I didn’t want to listen to anyone else’s advice about their experience with the child. Most of the time, I found that the so-called advice turned out to be false.
I wanted to start every year by getting to know my students. Each year should serve as a fresh start for students. I shouldn’t penalize students for behaviors that happened in the past in someone else’s classroom.
So, if you have the opportunity to learn about or discuss your incoming students, or even the chance to talk about your outgoing students, keep it positive.
Provide feedback or advice, but keep it to the facts. Don’t impart your opinion based on your experience. Remember that every child deserves a chance and a new beginning. Let each teacher make up their own mind.
After all, they may have a completely different experience in someone else’s classroom.