At a certain point in the year, usually in the very last few days- when report cards and textbooks have been turned in and end-of-year parties have been planned, the focus begins to shift. Families start looking beyond the end of school traditions and summer vacations all the way to NEXT year. And every parent wants to make sure their child will have an amazing teacher.
And this is where the chaos and confusion of teacher requests are born.
I absolutely think that parents should be involved in their children's education. It is why I write this blog. And yes, you should keep your ear to the ground to figure out who is who and what is what in your child's school and advocate for your child's needs.
The teacher your child gets matters a lot.
But it's important to be careful. Please don't fall into this common trap... requesting the popular teacher.
I have seen this happen so many times. Maybe there is one teacher who is incredibly friendly and at ease with parents, a teacher who is always sending home the most amazing newsletters, who has the coolest spelling bee night, the best back to school spiel or the most Pinterest-worthy classroom.
The problem is that often, parents only "see" or "hear" a fraction of what is going on. As a special education teacher I was often on the fringe of this issue, and saw it happen again and again. Many times I heard about a parent requesting the "popular" teacher, and thought "No! So and so would be so much better for your child's needs..."
I absolutely listen to rumors about teachers and administrators at my child's school. But I listen with a filter. Oh, that teacher is THE BEST? Wow, that's awesome. Tell me more! What did you love about her? How much do you know about the other teachers?
Like every other parent, I want the best for my children. But when it comes to teachers, "best" really depends on the individual child and overall mix of students.
There is another side to this coin: believing negative rumors about teachers.
If I hear consistently negative things about someone, especially if they include concrete examples, then I am going to be concerned. For example, if a Kindergarten teacher is regularly SCREAMING at her class, I am going to try to keep my child out of that class. And if I personally see a teacher do or say something that concerns me, I am going to talk to the teacher first, and then the principal if necessary.
It is easy to get sucked into the gossip about teachers. But I think as adults, and invested members of our school communities, we have a responsibility to do more. Should we share positive information about teachers? Absolutely. Are you are hearing crazy rumors about a teacher? Make an appointment to talk to the principal. Maybe there is something going on behind the scenes that parents don't know. Maybe not. Either way, the school administration should know what is being said.
By addressing negative rumors head on, we are giving the school a chance to fix the problem, albeit an actual problem or the perception. And in the end, that's best for everyone's kid.
Schools today often have sophisticated systems for assigning classes. They consider unique student needs and are designed to create balanced classes in regards to student achievement levels, gender, personality types, behavior and more. Many schools consider parent information and ask parents to complete a form to share important information used in placement.
Some schools are adamant that parents not name specific teachers, some allow for parents to request NOT to have a teacher by name, and other schools freely accept and aim to honor parent requests. Find out what your school allows.
Should you be involved? Yes, 100%. Put in your two cents however your school allows. But do your research first, and be open to the idea that the "best" teacher for your child might not be the one everyone is talking about on the playground.
Did you make a teacher request this year? Let me know what you think in the comments. Or, ask the teacher a question.