PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

Grade 1, Class 101, PTC Recap

Hello 101 Families,

It was wonderful to see so many of you last night – and I’m still looking forward to chatting with a few more of you next week! It’s always nice to finally sit down and talk (even briefly) about the amazing growth that your children are making.

Many of us had conversations that were very specific to the organization/structure of the report cards. What does it mean if my child is still a (3,4)? What does it mean if my child went from a 4 to a 3? Should I be concerned?  To recap, and explain for all, here are my thoughts about the questions so many of you had on your mind…

  • If your child received a “3” (insert any number) in any category, and they received the same score again, that STILL MEANS GROWTH WAS MADE! The expectations for first graders grows with each month. To be meeting a standard in November, and then still meeting that standard in March, means that your child grew – and kept up with the ever-rising expectations. First grade is a HUGE year of growth, and when something (reading, writing, math, etc.) finally “clicks,” you can SEE it, FEEL it and then there is no stopping your little one! Each child moves at his/her own pace. The range of “normal” in first grade is incredible.
  • If your child was “4” and is now a “3,” that does not mean your child is doing “worse.” Development and growth happens for children at different rates. Maybe a certain skill came more naturally to your child earlier “than expected” and now your child is where he/she is “expected” to be. There is NOTHING wrong with meeting standards – and that is what a 3 means.
  • If there was a reason to be concerned, you would have (and will) hear from me. I promise to stay in touch – and I’m always available via e-mail and during Tuesday morning parent engagement time.


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Today in class, we read The Tortoise and the Hare. Using this story as a metaphor for my reading (teaching) philosophy, we opened a great dialogue about how hard it is to learn how to read. We talked about feeling like the tortoise – who got off to a slow start, but kept moving. He was slow and steady, and at the end, he got to the finish line AHEAD of the hare. (We tied this to the FACT that everyone in 101 will progress through ALL of the levels. The pace they move through them is determined by many factors… practice, determination, etc.)

We then talked about feeling like the hare – he was so sure of himself that he stopped trying. When this happened, not only did he start thinking he was better than the tortoise, he actually fell behind. We definitely don’t want this!!

101 and I also talked about how some reading levels were just not appropriate for first graders. (Students were wondering when they would get to level Z… and then they seemed surprised to learn that it’s not a race to level Z!!) I explained that it wasn’t that I thought they weren’t smart enough to read those books, and I know they could probably read most of the words in “other” books, but then the content of the books wasn’t just right. First grade books are about events and topics that first graders can understand. “Higher” levels are about topics that a first grader is not going to really understand… nor should they.

We ended our conversation talking about how EVERY CHILD IN 101 has made progress… and for that, they SHOULD feel proud. HOWEVER, that should not stop them from continuing to work hard, and it should not cause them to feel “better than” anyone else. I wanted them to hear me say how proud I am. And, I really am. They are growing and continue to amaze me.


Many parent conversations also dealt with the ideas of perfectionism, willingness to take risks and social/emotional concerns about dealing with our peers. All of these issues are grade appropriate and very common among G&T students.

I’ve heard you, and as soon as I find a great book (or 10!) about these topics, 101 and I will chat again. And, as always, I’ll keep you posted about how our discussions go, and share with you the language that we’ve been using. I truly care about the whole child, and will continue to work with you – and them, of course – until everyone reaches his/her full potential.

Always, Siobhan =)

Have a wonderful weekend!