I’m very excited to share that I’m going to be teaching a 5/6 split next year. I love splits! While I usually hear about concerns regarding split grades, here are the reasons why I think a split is fantastic:
- Built-in differentiated instruction. When you’re teaching two different grades, you’re also responsible for two different sets of curriculum expectations. You can’t have everyone doing the same thing all the time. As a teacher, I need to differentiate, and ensure that all of my students are taught the content that they need to be successful, in the way that they need it.
- A continuum of learning. To help with teaching different sets of expectations to different students, I find that teachers of splits have to look at how the expectations intersect. They need to create a continuum of learning. Often this continuum is based on “big ideas,” which also coincides with our current school focus on learning goals and success criteria.
- Lots of small group instruction. Since students in a split class are learning different content, they don’t need to all sit and listen to the same lesson. Lots of small group instruction really helps address the varying needs of the varying students. Not only does this small group approach let me look at what each individual student needs to do well, but it also helps me build independence and collaboration in my other students, as they support each other while I’m working with small groups.
- Two times the team! As a teacher, I learn a lot from my peers. This year, I was very fortunate to work with a fantastic partner, Gina, and we collaborated a lot — as you can even hear in our Planning Minutes. Next year, I’m not just working with one team of teachers, but two. Now I get the opportunity to learn from and with even more people. The more that we can share and learn together, the more students benefit.
- Addressing EQAO even earlier. I have always believed that EQAO is not a Grade 3 or a Grade 6 test, but as a Grade 3 or a Grade 6 teacher, you really feel the onus on you to do well. It seems as though much of the preparation for this standardized test comes in these two grades. As a 5/6 teacher, I’ll be able to show that EQAO is not just a single-grade test. I can help my students learn skills for answering multiple choice and short answer questions, find ways to communicate more in math, and build a foundation for the knowledge that they’re going to need as they move up the grades. (Debates around EQAO are for another post entirely, but I thought that this one point was worth addressing here.)
While this is my first time teaching a split in the Junior grades, I have taught splits for years. I taught JK/SK blends and Grade 1/2 splits before, and I loved both experiences. I’m thrilled that the principal and vice principal, Paul and Tammy, gave me this opportunity to teach another split. It’s going to be a great year, and I can’t wait for September to begin!
What are your thoughts on split grades? What questions or concerns do you have about them? I’d love to hear your thinking!