Advertisement

HomeAcademics & ActivitiesAcademic Skills

Jockeying for teachers

Should parents get to request certain teachers for their children?

By Carol Lloyd

“Mommy,” my 10-year-old daughter recently asked as we walked home, weighed down by first-week-of-school lunch groceries. “Do you think it’s right that Pam’s mother always does that?”

“Always does what, honey?”

“Since kindergarten, she always makes sure Pam gets a certain teacher.”

In the last weeks of summer, my daughter has overheard enough school scuttlebutt to know that many parents are anxiously awaiting their children’s teacher assignments. She also knows (gleaned from conversations with her gloating peers) that some parents seem not to await those decisions so much as dictate them.

Not knowing what to say, I equivocated. “Uh, Pam’s mother is very involved in her children’s education.”

“But Mommy, that’s not my question. Do you think it’s right?"

Leave it to my daughter to cut to the heart of a touchy issue as we’re walking across four-lane traffic and dragging 50-plus pounds of fig bars and pippin apples.

As parents in a big city with a competitive school lottery, we know the importance of choosing the right school for our children. We scrutinize test scores and critically discuss finger paintings in the hallways. Then school begins, and suddenly we realize that the most significant issue — which teachers our kids spend a giant portion of their waking hours with — isn’t our purview at all.

Why getting good teachers matters

Recent research supports the idea that we should be concerned about who teaches our children. In a study of Tennessee teachers, statistician William Sanders discovered that after three consecutive years, students with low-performing teachers scored 50 percentile points behind similar students with high-performing teachers. Educational economist Eric Hanushek of Stanford University found that students with a teacher in the top 5% gained a year and a half’s worth of learning. Those with teachers in the bottom 5% learned only half a year’s worth of material. The most effective educators can provide children up to two grades of learning, whereas with the least effective teachers, students typically gain only a half year.

An explosive new investigation of teacher effectiveness in the Los Angeles Unified School District by the L.A. Times suggests that parents should care even more about who teaches their children than which school they attend. After surveying one measure of teacher effectiveness, the Times found that the “quality of instruction typically varied far more within a school than between schools.” In other words, there are good teachers — and bad ones — in all sorts of schools. Getting your child in front of the good ones can make a lasting difference.

Should parents have a say?

Still, I didn’t know how to answer my daughter’s question. At our elementary school, such requests took place privately and were publicly discouraged — the dirty little secret of highly involved parents. But what’s wrong with a parent doing the right thing by their child? Isn’t that what this nation needs in order to turn around public education: an army of parents hell-bent on improving student learning, one student at a time?

In search of other opinions, policies, and personal stories that might cast light on my confusion, I surveyed a range of parents, administrators, and teachers with a few simple questions: Should parents have a voice in classroom assignments? If so, should it be a formal process that invites all parents to describe their children’s learning needs? Or is this another case of meddlesome helicopter parents getting in the way of educators doing their jobs?

Good parenting practice or just plain pushy?

Surprisingly, the issue didn’t split along educators versus parents.

“I think parents should back off and let their children lead their school experiences so they can build independence and confidence,” says Leslie Komet Ausburn, a mother in San Antonio.

Julie Malling, a mother of an incoming kindergartner in Long Beach, Calif., echoes the anxiety of influence theory. “Personally, I wish parents would just stop doing this; it drives me a bit crazy. I make a point not to talk about this in front of my daughter because I don't want her to develop anxiety over whether or not she gets ‘the best teacher.’”

Against the advice of other parents, Malling says she decided not to request a certain teacher for her daughter, but now sometimes doubts herself. “I wish that I could say I decided that and never faltered, but I still wonder if I made the right decision. My daughter actually got a teacher that was not one of the popular ones.”

For some it’s not parental involvement per se, but the de facto inequity it perpetuates. “It’s a slippery slope,” contends Susie Siegel, a kindergarten teacher in San Francisco. “What [about] the parents who don't feel they can speak up?” Siegel advocates for “consistent rules.” Otherwise, she says, “if only the empowered families speak up,” then the kids whose parents aren’t squeaky wheels — or don’t know they can be — are out of luck.

She also argues that placement requests may ride on rumor rather than fact. “It can be easy to start stereotyping the different teachers: ’Oh, the academic ones’ or ‘the artsy ones’ or ‘the mean ones.’ Or this or that.”

Yet parental jockeying for teachers is a problem many principals may increasingly confront. As budgetary problems force parents to foot the bills for core educational components like libraries, PE, and computer labs, more schools need to become “high-involvement schools.” In turn, schools may need to adapt to policies that account for parents’ increasing sense of involvement (and consequent entitlement).

“The PTA pays for the school's librarian, and I think they also pay for the assistant in the computer lab, among other things,” says Malling. “I think the trend of requesting certain teachers might just be the beginning.”

Distinguishing wants from needs

Indeed, some schools with highly involved parent bodies have already developed policies that both invite and limit parental opinion in classroom placements. Miraloma Elementary in San Francisco, a school legendary for its intensely involved parents, allows parents to write a note about their children and their needs, but they can’t mention teachers by name.

At Leeds Elementary School in Leeds, Mass., parents fill out a form about their children’s learning styles — but not about a given teacher. “Savvy parents would get the scoop on the upcoming teachers and slant their form to ensure getting one teacher,” explained one former parent who requested to be anonymous. “If there were three possible teachers and you wanted the one who everyone says is best, you look at the qualities she has. Say she uses a lot of music and takes lots of field trips — you write on the form that your child is a "hands-on" learner who learns best through the arts. If one of the other teachers [you don't want] is super-structured, you add that your child is creative and needs to be with a teacher who is flexible and not highly structured.”

Some educators differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate requests. L. L. Brown, a middle and high school English teacher based in Tulsa, Okla., thinks attempting to get a teacher who is an “easy grader or popular due to public relations” is not a legitimate request. What is? One that matches personalities and learning styles.

But some argue it’s just this sort of parental involvement — not bake sales and silent auctions — that public schools should encourage. “I support the practice, although many of the schools in our district do not want parent buy-in,” says Lisa Graff, a counselor at Abbott Middle School in Orchard Lake, Mich., who was in the midst of processing some 250 requests for the upcoming year. “If a family has had a positive or negative experience with an older child's teacher, it’s best to listen to this. I think public schools need to be competitive with private schools, and we must increase buy-in and family ownership.”

The squeaky wheel gets the best classroom

Like many parents, at first I took our school’s stated policy vis-à-vis school assignments at face value. It was, I was told, the principal's sole discretion with input from teachers. Parental preferences were not part of the equation. Then I watched as some parents — usually the most involved, savvy, and, to be honest, generous with their own time and money — work the system. Their goal? To direct the most precious educational resources — good teachers — toward their children. Meanwhile, my older daughter got a couple of weak teachers, and by fifth grade, the children of the squeaky-wheel parents — even those who had once been identified as having learning problems — were reading, writing, and calculating circles around my daughter.

Now my second time round with my younger daughter, who is just starting elementary school, I’m less sanguine about keeping my preferences quiet. I know I can’t make the decision, but I also don’t know how it helps my child or the school for me to stay silent if I have a strong opinion about which teacher would be best.

Maybe this makes me one of those pain-in-the-ass mothers my elder daughter considers to be walking on questionable moral ground. But if it’s our principal’s job to balance gender, ethnicity, and other such demographic variables, it’s mine to consider what will help two little girls learn their best with swelling class sizes, disappearing budgets, and growing evidence that teachers make the difference.

is the executive editor of GreatSchools and mother to two raucous daughters, ages 9 and 13.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

06/15/2012:
"During the course of school session, teachers get reshuffled and some teachers start teaching higher grades and other the lower grades. Many of my friends think that teachers are downgraded because of their bad performance. I have always been confused on this subject. There are no teachers in my family. So, can any educator or person from school system help me understand this reshuffle? thanks "
05/29/2012:
"If the school districts did not participate in the "dance of the lemons" and actually did what was best for the students and replaced the bad teachers, Parents would not have to worry and about requesting the quality teachers. Students FIRST!! "
05/29/2012:
"As an educator, picking your child's teacher is a, for lack of a better word, "crao shoot". Parents tend to buy into the gossip about who is good and who is not, generally based on personal feelings, not whether the teacher can teach or not. There will be so many people in the world that your child will have to deal with, why give them the illusion that they will always get to pick the people they will be involved with? I certainly don't. If you raise your child to be respectful and flexible, your child will learn in any situation. We teach for your child's FUTURE, not your PAST. "
05/29/2012:
"There are reason's some parents choose their child;s teacher. I have a child with ASD and a few other letters but she has no Learning Disabilities. In fact this year there is a teacher that is not allowed to even speak to her after she tried to assert the power of adult/teacher on her. This is all with the backing of her therapist and Dr. I should add that other than a unstructured teacher (who is a good teacher but not for her) and this teacher we haven't been overly concerned with her placement. "
05/22/2012:
"It's well known that teachers with kids hand-pick the teachers for their own children. Teachers and administrators know better than anyone which teachers are good, which are okay and which are dead weight. The question is: Why is it okay for the bad teachers to keep working and harming children? Some are not fit to work with kids, some may have been good once but are burnt out and delaying retirement, and some just aren't effective. In most other fields, there are methods to weed these workers out, but the teachers unions protect the bad with the good. "
05/22/2012:
"I will not ask for a certain teacher but there are teachers I will refuse! "
05/21/2012:
"This "research" shouldn't surprise anyone. It's just common sense. You have to do what's best for your child. Never mind what other parents are doing. Never mind what the administration or anyone else thinks. You are the only advocate your child has and you need to step up to the plate. You can interview teachers or speak to others to find out who the best teachers are. Everyone knows who the poor ones are, don't kid yourself. Your child deserves the best and you have to provide that for her. She will thank you in the end. I know; I've been there. "
05/21/2012:
"As an educator, I want to emphasize that not all the reasons parents choose certain educators are legitimate and may sometimes be harmful to their children. I've seen popular educators chosen over really good teachers, just because they tended not to be "warm and fuzzy" to the parents. Sometimes those that appear to be "nice" are the people who don't necessarily want to have the difficult conversations. I think there are legitimate reasons for not putting some kids in some classrooms. Make sure it's because it's not the optimal learning environment instead of the place where your child will get priority over others. Life just doesn't work that way and school is the best place to learn that "
05/21/2012:
"Absolutely I am involved with next years teacher placement - I have to be - this past year was downright difficult - and I am sure the administrators feel the same way about me. The teacher my son had was not a "good fit" - so much so that earlier this year he did not want to go to school, period. Apparently the teacher he had loves bullies. After a heated conversation with the principal the bullying was mediated, but this didn't mean that the teacher was motivated to teach ... My child tested in the top 3% nationally for math aptitude - so he was allowed to "test up" a grade for math - but he failed the exam because he wasn't prepared to take the test - his teacher never gave him any additional work and, I, the parent, did not know what he was expected to know ... We chose this school district because of their accelerated math program, and for their proposed ability to adjust the curriculum to the child's needs and abilities. So, yes, I am more involved because I have to be. I've watched doors close (temporarily) because of one poor placement choice, and my child's education is, ultimately, my responsibility. Having my child test miss the school district's top tier math program after having tested into the top 3% in aptitude is nothing short of a travesty - so, yes, I will make sure that this does not happen again next year. "
05/21/2012:
"If I had my choice, my son would not have been with the teacher he is with this year. I had heard the rumors about her...strict, mean, overly structured, etc. I didn't feel like I could argue for him to be in another class with nothing but rumors to go on. Here's the irony, though. My son has had a wonderful year, and his teacher has been open and helpful all along the way. When parents are considering fighting to have their kid with a certain teacher they need to make sure they really know the quality of the teacher. So much of it is a popularity contest rather than actually knowing which teacher is the most highly effective teacher. I teach in a district different than my own kids. Since I know the teachers, you can be sure that if my kids went to my school district, I would take part in assuring that a few of the teachers would not teach my child. I don't think we have any horrible teachers per se, but there are some teachers that I feel do not genuinely like kid! s or are not fit for the subject they are teaching. I am not willing to give up a year of my child's education just to avoid confrontation. So far, at my son's school, we have had an awesome experience all around. If he ever truly gets a horrible teacher, I'll make sure that my younger children never get him/her. In that manner, I would have solid evidence of why that teacher is not good for my children. "
05/21/2012:
"Can the teacher pick the students they want to teach? "
11/14/2011:
"If we get rid of tenure and fire poor teachers and hire enthusiastic new teachers this problem would disappear "
08/18/2011:
"I not only do not think this is appropriate but it is, in fact, unfair to the other children at the school particularly in a public school. This practice breeds inequality, disparity and social entitlement to the "chosen" children. How can any parent think their child is entitled to special treatment over others? If there's a bad teacher...complain to the principal, talk to parents, volunteer more at school when you can. I think there is a legal standard that is being pushed to the limit with continued practice of this. Not to mention...letting all the other teachers know that they are inferior to one teacher...when this is not always the case...and more importantly, letting children know they are not as important...Bad messages to spread to our growing children. "
06/15/2011:
"In a perfect world this would be wonderful but every time I have requested a teacher or requested my kids be moved to a different teacher's classroom,the principal denies my request. My poor kids have ended up with teachers that are not good for them at all."
06/14/2011:
"As a parent and a teacher, I do not believe in jockeying for a specific teacher. It sends a bad message to the child and the teacher who is requested. It sends the message to the child that it is ok to go around the rules that everyone else has to follow. If you have your child in a school, trust that the principal and teachers are putting your child in a classroom that is best for them. Then if things are not working out, you should absolutely say something. As a teacher, I feel that some parents, too often, are set on making the teacher bend to their will and their wishes. Parents should be teaching their child to work with different personalities. Also, when parents request a specific teacher, it puts pressure on the teacher. The parents may be putting too many expectations on the teacher to do what the previous teacher obviously wasn't able to do. It also may make the child seem like they're getting preferential treatment."
06/8/2011:
"If your student gets a teacher that does not meet your childs needs then you should ask for a change at the quarter. My son has been diagnosed as a savant. He is highlt gifted in some areas and others he struggles.Because he dous well on testhe is usually put in all gifted classes and we have had to change a couple times ,so he was able to keep up in the main class he has always struggled with. "
06/8/2011:
"quess i fall into the pain in ass group, there are teachers at our school who i do not want my child to have. after a really bad year , i learned you want the best say so, the teacher makes the difference. some truly should not be in the classroom or maybe a different grade, i say to parents get into the school see for yourself. if you hear a teacher yelling as you walk down a hall or after 6 or7 visits the teacher is always just sitting a desk you'll get the idea, you'll look in rooms see happy kids glad to learn that's the teacher you want for your child."
06/7/2011:
"I'm a mother of a 10 yrs old, i just need some suggestions. my daughters current school don't have a good state grade (really low). all the time shes been lucky in getting one of the several good teachers in school but last year she was not so lucky it was a really bad teacher not dedicated, but i left her in that school because her next teacher for 4th grade it reccomended by several parents and they were wright, her grades started in below basic and now thanks to this teacher my daughter is back in track shes in profitient, but now im changing her to a different school with a good state grade shes not that happy she thas not want to leave the school thats shes been for all these years she wants to graduate in her school with all her friends but i dont want to take any chances, theres no good 5th grade teacher and she was finally accepted in this great school, do you think im doing a good decision or not?"
06/7/2011:
"I chose my son's teachers every year, except for Pre-K! It's crucial to be involved enough to know which teachers are the best fit for your child. My son's school accomodates us, as all schools should."
06/6/2011:
"This is not, necessarily, a new issue. My oldest child was assigned a very strict first grade teacher. The stress of being in her class was overwhelming for my child and she ended up therapy for the remainder of first grade. With respect to my kids in elementary school, I always write a letter describing the type of teacher my child needs. In my opinion, by the time kids are in middle school they need to be exposed to different types of teachers and start learning how to work with, and learn from, different types of people."
06/6/2011:
"This really concerns me. I worry everyday about whether or not my 9 and 7 year old kids in Public school in Florida and my 17 year old daughter in high school is getting the education they deserve. Why not just get EXCELLENT teachers for every child. Why some schools get the best of everything and some schools get the left overs. My 17 year old is failing in Geometry always Ds and Fs on test she does extra credit (write a therory 100 times) gets an A and her final grade makes her look like she knows math. We need better teachers for all our kids."
06/6/2011:
"I rather have a teacher that understands my daughter and teaches her how to be caring than anything else,our Kindergarten experience with her teacher was awful,she kept on saying that she had ADHD issues and when the pediatrician evaluated her ,said that she is a very smart child who learns in a different way,that what she needs is a patient teacher that is willing to work with her learning style instead to drug her up,her learning is not impaired so the doctor wouldn't do that; so yes in our case I would say I have the right to ask for the kind of teacher she needs,it does show at the end of the year how much they have improved their learning. "
06/6/2011:
"Parents need to be vigilent of who is teaching & how. This all the more relevant nowadays due to pressures from other classes, which may lead to your kid's class getting not-so-good teacher. And, this can trigger a downtrend in his/her grades or progress. Not every parent request can be honoured but basics have to be accepted by schools in order to keep up the standards. "
06/6/2011:
"We as taxpayers are paying reguardless! If I were mediocre at my job I would be let go so why are mediocre teachers not held accountable? I request a teacher each and every year, I want the best education and fit for my child. I am paying through my tax dollars as well as all the extras that my husband & I donate and all the personal time we volunteer above working our full time jobs."
06/6/2011:
"I feel we as tax payers we should have a right to choose a teacher of our choice."
06/6/2011:
"Of course parents should be able to 'request' a teacher. This should not however mean that the request will be honored. The educators have to group kids according to balancing out the classes with boys/girls/ -- high, middle and low performers -- and special education needs -- then teachers make changes based upon children who do not work well together who need to be seperated -- then, last but not least, parent request. The educational needs of children should come before a parent's request to have their child in the same class with their child's best friends, the MOST common request we hear. I, being a teacher requested for my son a certain teacher because the teacher was male. It turned out to be the worst year of his education. The teacher did n't like my son and complained all year about his behavior, threw up red flag after red flag about his reading skills, yet had NO SOLUTIONS for his learning 'problems'. I suggested testing, tutoring, 5th grade reading buddies, and the teacher said no to it all. I should have yanked him out of the class, but being a teacher I gave the benefit of the doubt to the teacher. At the spring conference, he had the counselor at the conference with him. I saw the handwriting on the wall. I had been working with my son on his reading, and had a 1st grade teacher at my school read with him periodically. She reassured me his reading was alright and coming along. She did not understand the concern. Of course, they wanted to test him, in March!! after a whole year went by. I signed the paper and told the guy how much I knew he had just NOT TAUGHT my son to read and did not like him and had humiliated him frequently for one thing and another. It was not a pleasant conference. I also told him that I new he would NOT qualify as learning disabled. Well, I was correct. He was not performing up to his ability level. DUH!!! I wrote a retort to the testing and pinned the problem back on the teacher. So, requesting teachers is not always the way to go, folks, take it from me. I'm a teacher myself. "
06/6/2011:
"Amen! We have to be our children's advocates or, face it, they won't have any!"
06/6/2011:
"From my experience, demanding parents get the best teachers. The first two years of school I was very specific about the teachers I wanted for my children and they were placed with the best teachers at the school. The third year, I started to feel like maybe it wasn't fair to try to demand the best teachers. Well, my children's teachers were not effective and I ended up transferring them to a private school. My son's teacher was very good at teaching reading, but didn't even bother with science - my son's favorite class. It was completely the case that the most involved parents or those who might create trouble at the county level got the best teachers for their children. And, if you can work the system in that way, it is like getting a private school education. I have twins, so trying to get the 2 best teachers every year was impossible. In my experience, there is a huge difference in teacher quality and if you can't demand the best either by working the system or going to a quality private school your child will not get the best quality education. Some children will rise to the top regardless of teacher quality - others will be ignored and not develop their full potential. I didn't want to gamble that both my children would be able to achieve without the benefit of high quality, dedicated teachers."
06/6/2011:
"My daughter's third grade teacher was one of the most amazing teachers I ever know. My son's fifth grade teacher was not just a bad teacher but a horrible person, she was a real bully, she made my son and our lives miserable, my son got psychological and physically sick. He lost his selfsteem and he is not the happy kid he used to be. I hope those kind of teachers go straight to hell."
06/6/2011:
"I think this was a good article, but not timely. In our school a letter may be written, but it has to be in by early May."
06/6/2011:
"The kids with the most involved parents from our school are not the brightest students. It seems that these parents are hoping for preferential treatment because their kids cannot handle the academic load. "
06/6/2011:
"Good read on parental involvement & influence of teacher assignment."
06/6/2011:
"Oh Yes, especially in K-5th grade, the younger the child, the more important a good teacher is, my daughter almost had her entire spirit crushed by a harsh, child hating teacher, and it took much fighting as a parent to get her into a different class, a teacher should love children and love her job in younger grades, or she can scar a childs developing personality, confidence, and affect his or her future . I wish parents had more input, public schools are not inclusive enough in what is best for children. How a teacher interacts with students is perceived by them and internalized, and yes, they do need to learn to adapt, but a poor teacher can cause a child to fail for a lifetime, a good one, cements their love of learning. We need more power to help choose appropriate teachers. FAIR , Professional, teachers who enjoy their job, and do not teach for the 'power' it gives them over little children's developing psyches. Yes, this is important. Wish there were more input, reviews from parents and students about how they teach. Administration should not just take the teacher's word for things, they should let there be anonymous ratings done each year on each teacher, by parents."
06/6/2011:
"Of course if you have a preference you should make it known. Your child only has one shot at any given grade, and it should be the best one they can have. Most schools discourage requests, ask for a list of your child's strengths etc. Find out about the teachers and get to know their style by volunteering and talking to other parents. Then request the one you consider the best for your child."
06/6/2011:
"Having had a new 6th grade teacher that only lasted half of the year and a worse new teacher come in, lobbying is what a parent must do. I consider it a lost year. Schools are trying to put smart kids in with the lower achievers in the hope that it will improve the lower achievers. All schools are doing is dumbing down and discouraging smart kids. Smart kids have to listen to lessons being repeated for the umpteenth time, listen to scolding by teacher who cannot control the lower achievers and share in the punishment. This is no way to treat smart kids. No child should be left behind, but not at the expense of the kids with the greatest potential. Lobby away parents. You are fighting for the sanity and the education of your child."
06/6/2011:
"At my children's school it was possible to make teacher requests, and I did so based on the teacher's personality. Some teachers were rather stern, aggressive, outspoken individuals who would turn off a shy, sensitive child. On the other hand, teachers with a more nuturing personality had a better rapport with my children who were sensitive. Children have only one year to be a certain age or in a certain grade, and I believe getting the right teacher is and was of primary importance. One year with the wrong teacher can cause endless problems for a child."
06/6/2011:
"It is an abomination that the business of education is more concerned with the dollars it earns at postgraduate work than k-12 students being constantly exposed to inferior, unprofessional, ill suited teachers. The sad conclusion I have arrived at is there are three great teachers at any given school, 10 mediocre and the rest are just plain bad. My experiences with my child, led me to opt for the home schooling. Middle school I handled, high school here in Florida we are fortunate to have FLVS. They have all high performing teachers and I haven’t met a dud yet. I continued as a School Advisory Council member (district school) and when the kids stated in the survey of school safety, that they did not believe the teacher’s had their safety as a high priority, the wonderful adults on the committee stabbed their own kids in the back and apologized to the teachers and administration that the kids were just being mean. Kids are just that, kids are immature people, without a br! eadth of life experiences. Yet our schools are crushers that expect students to be adults. If you are not one, all you can do is ACT LIKE ONE, but when it comes to situations they will still perform like the children that they are. If you can’t home school, pay for private then you should find out who those three great teachers are and do what ever it takes to have your kid sitting in front of one of them."
06/6/2011:
"Always - and especially if your children attend a low performing district. Be prepared to pull your kids if you don't get what you want, after all they have a right to refuse you. Going to the board of ed is weak as well, be prepared to take no as an answer. The schools have to realize that every teacher should be performing at the highest level,"
06/6/2011:
"As a teacher, I know that I get who I get for students. I take each child where they are at when they first come to me and move them along as far as I can. It doesn't matter the subject, or the skills needed to be learned, or the personality of the child, or anything else. I love my students and strive to make each and every day an enjoyable and thought provoking experience for my students. One of the biggest hurdles my students face is not having materials to work with as well as many who have parents that really don't think education is much more than a necessary evil. Selecting teachers or students is so very tricky for all involved. There are pros and cons in each situation. Still, I believe that no matter who the teacher or child is with, they must work together to develop the child's mind, heart, body, and soul."
06/6/2011:
"I don't think the question should be whether or not a parent can request a child, but why not create more consistency within grade levels. If my child can learn more than a year's worth in one classroom, and less than an year's worth in another, where else would I want them but in the former? I didn't guide my first child's teacher selections until 2nd grade and it had detrimental effects which two above board teachers were able to correct. I've guided my second and she's a confident, self-reliant learner who wants more than the curriculum offers because the chosen teachers have given it to her. Who would want that child sitting getting extra reading (which is her strength, she doesn't need more) time when a teacher who is in tune with her strengths and weaknesses can use that time wisely to increase skills in her less proficient areas? If the same teacher is being requested by the majority of parents, I think the administration needs to look into why that is."
06/6/2011:
"Perhaps parents would make better use of their time and effort to work to assure that all teachers are great teachers. Those who don't make the grade should be removed."
06/6/2011:
"My daughter will be going into 1st Grade. I asked her teacher for her opinion as to who would be the best fit for my daughter. Her teacher recommended a teacher and says that this teacher will challenge her a bit. Still don't know if that's who we will get. The best teacher for my daughter may not be the best teacher for someone else. I am involved with my children and will continue to be."
09/23/2010:
"My child has a teacher this year for the 4th grade that is strict. Most of her class doesn't like her. I have spoke with her on how she has treated my son, but to no avail. Then I went to the principal and the principal did not resolve the issue, and she has yet to respond to any of our needs."
09/10/2010:
"Yes, I think parents should have a say in selecting the right teacher for their child, whether for high performance or the 'right fit' motivationall for their child to excell."
09/10/2010:
"I always have my daughter’s best interest at heart and in doing so I believe it is my responsibility to not only over see her present interactions but also prepare her for future interactions. I disagree with parents being able to pick their child’s teacher. The meaning of advocating is supporting not controlling. When my daughter had an ineffective teacher I discussed my issues with the teacher and when that did not work I addressed my concerns with the principal, other parents did the same and the teacher was asked to resign. My daughter was able to observe me handling conflict in a positive and mature manner. Giving children tools for handling difficult situations is essential for raising well adjusted adults. If someone does not like a co-worker, supervisor or college instructor they don’t get to have their parent come and switch that person out for them or pick a new one on their own. Effectively confronting and addressing conflict is a skill possessed by far too! few adults; these skills need to be taught at a young age from effective caregiver models. Not only would I not teach my daughter that running from a problem is a better solution than standing up for what is right but I would not model that type of behavior either."
09/9/2010:
"Parent should absolutely be able to contribute their thoughts on what teacher will best suit their child's personality & learning style. I have requested teachers for my children for the past 6 years and have been very fortunate to always get my choice. I have requested different teachers for each of my children for the same grade. My children have very different learning styles and personalities and I always make sure that my kids have 'the best teacher for them' not the 'most popular' teacher."
09/9/2010:
" As a parent,yes,I should have a say.....as long as I have done my homework! Get to know the teachers and talk to other well informed parents. It is not rocket science to figure out a right fit for your child.....It is worth it in the end."
09/9/2010:
"I think if a parent request their child be put in a different room, you should consider it. I am 64 and I still remember my first grade teacher. It was like a nightmare to me!"
09/7/2010:
"Of course most schools discourage parents from doing more than fundraising and they certainly don't want interference about choosing teachers. Use your common sense. You know your child better than anyone. Do your homework as to teaching styles, curriculum, etc. Step up and choose which teacher would be best for your child and don't be satisfied with less. Too many poor teachers are in the system and children suffer the consequences. Your tax dollars pay for the schools and you deserve the right to choose."
08/30/2010:
"As a mother and an educator for more than a decade, I agree that the teacher makes an enormous impact on student learning. Instead of rating instructors based on test scores and threatening to punish those whose students don't produce the test results that the administration wants to see, why not allow more time during faculty meetings for teachers to collaborate and share ideas. Some schools allow an hour or so of collaboration per week via special hourly schedules on, say, a Tuesday or Wednesday, but I have not found these times to be sufficient. Faculty meetings often take an hour or more at least once a month. Additionally Department meetings take an hour or so once a week. Typically these meetings are filled with top-down information that could appear in an email. Administrators and department leaders could send a questionaire with the email to see that people have read and understood the information presented. Then, we would have more time to meet in interdiscipl! inary groups as well as department groups to share best practices and learn from each other. If we hope to remain professionally and educationally competitive with other countries in the 21st Century we must alter the way we handle teacher education and faculty-administration relationship. Thanks for listening! Abi G."
08/30/2010:
"I completely disagree that parents should request a teacher. My daughter did not want a particular teacher, because she 'was mean,' etc... I said, 'honey, sometimes in life we have to work with people we don't like.' Although it was an emotionally miserable year for her, she learned a great deal of content as well as coping skills. More often than not, parents don't know enough about a truly good teacher to adequately make the call. I've seen it be more of a personality contest; likeable teachers don't always equate to good teachers. Now, if there is a conflict of interest, whether personal, or from a previous child, then that needs to be considered. Everyone just needs to stop micro-managing their children. Let them fall, be accountable, and accept consequences; they need to learn to get back up and stand on their own two feet."
08/30/2010:
"I think this is a fantastic way for the parents to express support for the teachers that go the extra mile with their classes. As a parent of two gifted children I know the importance of having a teacher that is going to challenge my child. Likewise I would hope that principals and grade level chairs would listen to the parents. The teachers that these parents are trying to avoid should be assessed. They may just need a boost of further education or classes on new methods to meet student's needs. Many parents just seem to react to reputation but other parents that are involved in the classroom regularly may really have an educated opinion. I also know that 'getting the right teacher' is also a way for parents to feel that they are doing all they can to help give their child the best chance for a great year! "
08/30/2010:
"As a parent, I agree with a previous poster. I am my children's best advocate. I think it is fine to request a teacher, it's my responsibility to ensure the best possible environment for my child. If that makes me an annoying parent by someone else's standards, I think to myself 'well, she deserves the best education possible, I am looking out for her and she deserves the chance to be in a safe and healthy environment where the kids are cared about'. I have asked if a teacher could be chosen before school starts. Last year when my 4th grader was transferred to the middle school. (4th thru 6th were there) we were not granted our request in the end. We started out with our requested teacher, dropped off our supplies with her on Open House and then on the 1st day of school (two days later) were moved to another teachers room after an irate parent demanded the other teacher.. My daughter was devastated and we were upset and embarrased as the first teacher approached us and asked if she had done something wrong to offend us. Later, we found out the Principle lied to me saying our gifted teacher had requested the switch at the last minute and the gifted teacher was told I had requested the change.. That was the beginning of a horrible year for our daughter for her 4th grade. The Principle, Counselor and her teacher were very unapproachable, not at all pleasant to deal with, did not answer phone calls or emails and did not hon! or requests just for simple meetings. The teacher was definitely below par of what I'd expect in a teacher.. She had no control over her class, had the highest amount of kids in her class who didn't care about school, had no respect for others personal property, for others or for adults. When a child caused trouble, she punished the entire class. Too lazy to do her job and talk to the children. My daughter ran out of work everyday and was told to read or just sit there. Her gifted teacher she is with only once a week, kept asking this teacher if our daughter needed extra work or challenges and she was told 'No, she's ok, I have it covered'. On the one meeting we had she told me 'Your daughter gets all A's why did we need to meet, and I am a great teacher'. I tried to tell her that our daughter making all A's didn't mean we didn't have to meet and we needed to figure out ways to keep her busy and challenged. Her response was 'well I'll work on that'. I could not get in touch! with her again for another meeting. Yet, our daughter was bor! ed and didn't learn much that year. The teacher even told our daughter that she wasn't allowed to answer my emails on school property or she would get in trouble. She said she didn't have a computer at home. Yet, she was shopping on line at school in class and we found her on face book at night on week ends. So that was clearly a lie. I would put notes in her box and ask for a meeting and she denied ever getting any. This went on and on.. It was a losing battle from day one. The Principle was either in her office behind a closed door or not there. The Counselor ran the school like a bull dog and was very nasty to parents, hard to talk to, etc.. Many of the teachers and this Counselor had an attitude towards the gifted families and a few teachers said all kids are gifted so why should they be treated different? Our kids were definitely kids who love school, everything about it and wanted to learn. We volunteer the most with the school and donate the most time and supplies to! the school and are probably the most active in the school. Well, now I am happy to say our middle school closed and my daughter is starting out 5th grade back in the Elementary school and it's so much more of a cleaner, pleasant environment for our girls to go to and for me to volunteer in. The Principle is always smiling, in the hallway actually greeting people and doing varied jobs and she is approachable. So for this new 2010 - 2011 school year I requested a teacher for our 5th grader and did not for our 1st grader. The Principle said they were taking requests for teachers up to the week of Open House and School. She handed me a piece of paper and I wrote my request in a note and handed it right back to her. We did get the teacher we requested for our 5th grader and our 1st grader has a very good 1st grader we did not pick. My requests for specific teachers are based on our gifted teachers suggestions, because to be fair I do not know the teachers personally. I just know about 8 teachers in lower grades from my daughters previous years there. She chooses teachers based on her getting to know them during the summer and the classes they take together. She bases her choices on pro active teachers who have gifted kids and that will work with her, the parents and the system. The choice is also for teachers who go beyond the every day needs of all of the kids and keep an eye out for not just those who are struggling but for the gifted. The teacher is also the one who has more control of her class room and doesn't spend the whole day screamning at the kids and if she doesn't know who started a fight, deals with both kids and listens to both sides. So, I agree parents who care about their childs education should have a say in which teacher their child has."
08/30/2010:
"I think we know our children best and I always do teacher requests based on personality traits and learning styles. I am always prepared to not have my request honored because there are no guarantees at our school, but so far it has worked out extremely well. "
08/27/2010:
"I believe you should be able to request a teacher for your child. Every student has certain needs that the parents are aware of and choosing the right teacher will benefit that child. "
08/27/2010:
"I truly believe it is in the parents and the childs best interest to pick the teachers that best fit the parents expectations and to make the child feel right at home and safe in and with the teachers around them. It really would make for a education for all involved."
08/26/2010:
"I have requested my son's teachers for the last three years. I volunteer at the school a lot and pay special attention to how the teachers interact with and control their classes. my son has a slight disability which causes him to become easily stressed so I make sure that he gets teachers which manage their class without having to yell and threaten. He's gone from reading below grade level in first grade to loving reading and reading well above grade level now in fourth grade. He is now in advanced math and was offered the chance to go into a gifted/talented class. I already know who would work for him for fifth grade. I do talk with his current teacher before the end of the year as well as a guidance counselor to see if they think my choices are what they believe are best for him too. So far so good."
08/26/2010:
"'Yes' Is my simplest and most concise answer. Teachers make or break a child. "
08/26/2010:
"If the Union didn't have the power to keep the bad teachers in school, we probably wouldn't even have such a discussion. In my son's public school there was a kindergarden teacher, who lost her kids (my son including), released to the wrong parents, locked kids in the classroom on the 1st day of school (because she didn't notice them), gave homework but wouldn't take it back for checking... How bad should it get? Yet she got to teach till retirement. I think teacher's unions should be stripped ofthis kind of power. If there are numerous complaints about a certain teacher, it should be well checked by the school district. We have plenty of talented teachers, young and old, who were laid off due to budget cuts. We will still have teachers whose style isn't the best for each child, but the ones who don't care about their jobs would be out."
08/26/2010:
"The school doesn't tell you what teachers are good, and they never will. So you are dependent on other parent's opinions, which are unreliable. Information is power and it is all in the hands of the principal and teachers. "
08/26/2010:
"Maybe if more parents start requesting particular teachers, it will weed out the bad ones. What do you do when you know one is particularly bad, but you still end up with that teacher even though you requested another?"
08/26/2010:
"My son's school does not allow direct parent input for classroom selection. Fro the past three years he has done wonderfully with teachers I wouldn't have thought to be a good 'fit'. I trust the knowledge and commitment of the professionals to find the best place for my son! They are better qualified because they know both the teachers, the children and the dynamic of the mix."
08/23/2010:
"I think that it is vital that the parents be involved in the selection of the teacher. I think that we should have an input because the lower performing or plain old 'detached' teachers WILL effect your childs education. I had a VERY new teacher with unrealistic expectations and was simply in the wrong grade level and my child changed his mind about even liking school. It was a horrible experience for our family. He suffered academically because of it as well. First time he's ever been at or below grade level. So YES, it is vital, and a sign of good leadership to allow the parents to be involved."
08/23/2010:
"I agree that parents should have a say. In my child's school, I am an involved parent but it those favored by administration which get their way. "
08/23/2010:
"I need advice in how to approach my doughter's school principal. Classes started just Wed. last week and her teacher had allready made her cry two times by yelling and screaming to the children. She states that his screaming is so execive that even though is not towards her person it feels just the same. I like to change her ticher and I know the principal is not going to like that. Please advice me. Anyone with experince in the school system in Moreno Valley "
08/23/2010:
"In reading the above article, It was educational. Just in my opinion, I believe that parents should encourage; guide; and coach their children to adapt and adjust to situations that may not be favorable to them. This is what they will be doing as they get older. I am not saying that a child should do this alone. No, talk to your child and find out the underlying source of the problem. It may be that your child is struggling and don't know how to ask for help. As a parent, he or she should be able to seek help for the child and as the parent is seeking help, have the child involved. In another words, if a parent chooses to have tutor or counseling, the child should be present and the child should be able to feel comfortable. It is up to the parent to take the time and invest it wisely to show their children by examples as well as preaching life's lessons. >From experiences: My son was seriously struggling in third/fourth grade in reading. I took my son to the doctor to make sure he was not emotionally or psychologically prevented to learn. I also took him to a company that tutor's children. Well, that didn't work; it would have been too costly for us. Then I took my son to his school counselor and asked if he could assess my son's behavior to see if we needed further assistance. Thank God it wasn't that. However, the problem still wasn't solved. So the counselor, my son and I sat there and came up with the idea of a tutor from school. The next day, I received an email from his 4th grade teacher and he began tutoring my son. Not only did my son get the extra help academically, he learned a valuable lesson for life. When in need for improvements or adjustments, seek help if needed and continue to work with every effort possible to improve. It was a hard lesson for him to learn; for he would work and work and work befo! re getting a tutor; but having the child appreciate the help makes things so much meaningful. This changing teachers and blaming other sources does nothing for the child. As a parent, we don't want to see our children suffer or be hurt! So true; however, we have to guide them for success; not just academically, but for life. A few years has passed by and my son still continues to work very hard and he hasn't mastered the reading as top reader of his peers. Instead, it has been recorded that he reads slowly but accurately. That tells alot! He is taking more time to focus on what he's reading and making sure it's accurate. What a perfect outlook for worklife? It wasn't until recently, when I asked my son, how did you figure out your lego project to the way he wanted the mechnisms of legos to work? He replied 'After making a million mistakes; I learned from my mistakes!' That response told me alot more than the mere fact he accomplished his short term goal. That response told me that he has learned a valuable lesson of life. If one does not first succeed; keep going until you succeed with the known fact that improvements are to be made and you are willing to accept these factors and change for the best. I am not saying I expect my son to make straight A's and B's. I want him to learn that! life is a challenge, be ready to accept and cope with these challenges. Grades are nice; but if you don't learn to improve and continue for excellence with a working effort; than I pray for the parents and the child."
08/23/2010:
"As both a parent and a teacher I can see both sides; however, I have taught in districts where parents have a week to 'observe' their child's next year teachers and select which teacher the parent wants. This interfered with instruction as parents tried to interview me while I taught. I even had some parents ask me if I planned on getting pregnant the next year. I found that to be very intrusive and offensive. Parents need input but should not be allowed to hand select their children's teachers."
08/23/2010:
"If teacher input is considered in the principal's decision, the communication you as a parent have with the current teacher can also lead to a better match for the upcoming year. I became a little of a pain when I realized my son's teacher last year was not a good match for his learning style. I requested conferences with his teacher and made my point several times throughout the year that he needed more structure. And then, I hoped that at least teachers and principal would take the job of assigning classes seriously enough. So far, even though I don't really know the new teacher personally or through other families, I feel like we did get a better match, just by what my son says when he gets home, and the quality of the work he has brought home this far. "
08/23/2010:
"This is an interesting article, but lacks any definition of what constitutes a good teacher. 'Everyone says' is not adequate as a method for determining teacher effectiveness. Careful research using public records to determine which teachers have the greatest effect on test scores is one way, but that assumes that test scores are the measure of teacher effectiveness that is most important. Is that really what we want to say?"
08/23/2010:
"I don't see a dilemma here at all. As a parent, I am my children's best advocate. It's not only okay to request a teacher, it's my responsibility to ensure the best possible environment for my child. If that makes me an annoying parent by someone else's standards, too bad. In fact, just today the class lists were posted at our school. I'm so relieved that our youngest is in the class with the teacher we requested. I've never asked 'if' a school takes requests, I've simply written a letter to the principal or counselor shortly before the end of the school year requesting next year's teachers. My requests are based on my observations while at the school, teaching style, personality of teacher and child, input from other teachers and administrators as well as referrals from parents whose opinions I value. Being a military family, I have say we've had our experiences with great schools, not so great schools, awesome and inspiring teachers and those who leave me wondering just how they graduated college. All in all, I've learned it's best to get to know the school and teachers, be involved as much as you can and not leave anything to chance."
08/23/2010:
"When my son started public school in 2nd grade the school worked with me to place him in a class where the transition would be made as easily as possible. The year went great. The next year I requested a teacher because I had her in the same school and the request was ignored. That year was a DISASTER. The teacher disliked him and made no bones about it. The following year I demanded that he not be put in a certain teacher's class again, from personal experiance as a student and that was honored. He had a great year followed by an easy transition to middle school. After experiancing it both ways I will deffinately be a vocal involved parent to make sure we are assigned or avoid teachers that will not work with my younger more challenging child. You only get one shot at 3rd grade...."
08/23/2010:
"I agree with this article. Children spend too much time in school to have to put up with bad teachers. There is no forum to complain about a teacher without getting labeled a trouble maker. I had a parent come to me desperate to keep her daughter out of the classroom that her son had since the teacher was so bad. (My son--years later--admitted to sleeping in this teahcers class.)It should be easier for parents and students to voice their opinions. Sure some may want easy teachers, but I think most want a good teacher. To have no system in place for evaluating teachers because it may be flawed just damages the education system. Bad teachers exist. Parents, students, and school staff know they exist. We evaluate our students even though the method is flawed why not evaluate our teachers?"
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT