Should you influence what teacher your child gets next year?

/Should you influence what teacher your child gets next year?

Should you influence what teacher your child gets next year?

Should you influence what teacher your child gets next year?

We all want the best for our kids, but in our era of hyper-parenting things can quickly go from well meaning to well, kind of crazy. As the school year wraps up, thoughts turn to who your child’s teacher will be next year. Personally, I’ve never given the matter much thought, but I suppose if I had a child with friend, behavioural or learning issues I would. It’s a question worth asking: should you try and influence what teacher your child gets next year?

Some schools say flat out they will not tolerate any parental influence when it comes to determining class make up. Inevitably, you hear of it happening and you’re annoyed you stood on the sidelines. I have a ton of teacher friends and I always enjoy debating education issues with them. I’ve polled them about this issue and am happy to share a few points to consider before hauling into the principal’s office and making what many administrators consider to be a fuss.

How schools select classes

School propaganda spews nuggets such as: We strive to provide the best learning environment, so children can grow socially and academically. They don’t decide willy nilly who goes where, though I suspect the head teacher (or one with the longest tenure) gets first dibs. Still, schools strive for an even boy/girl balance and an equal number of students in each class. Then they’ve got to even out the abilities, making sure there’s an even proportion of learning styles and needs. Of course, there is some intentional placement and separation of students who aren’t at their best in the same environment.

When to step in

Personally I think parents who manipulate their child’s placement because they want to avoid a certain teacher do everyone a disservice. In many of these cases, they don’t know the new teacher, they’ve only heard rumours from other parents or children. Swooping in to protect their child from unforeseen issues with a potential teacher doesn’t teach kids resilience. It teaches them how to buck the system (a skill I’m not opposed to kid’s learning), but in this case, it sets them up for failure. Far better to learn how to deal with different types of people at a young age, then to be coddled and face a harsh reality when you’re older.

If your child is having friendship issues, that’s another story. Likely the teachers involved are well aware of the dynamics between children. If you want to point it out, feel free, but don’t expect the world to move. Far better is to get your child some skills in navigating friendships. GirlPower and GoodGuys offer courses, camps and one-off seminars around the world for parents and children.

Your foremost job as a parent is to ensure your child’s safety. If you feel their safety could be compromised by being in a classroom with a certain teacher or student, by all means, do what you need to do to keep your child safe. But if it’s not a safety issue, consider the impact of meddling before diving in.

How to make a change

I know more than one parent who ramped up their volunteer efforts just so they could be on the school’s good side. Surprisingly, in the cases I’m aware of, it seems to have worked. They get the teacher they want in future years and their current teacher appears more understanding when issues arise.

I try to start each school year with no expectations. I’m not the one going to school. There’s often one stand out teacher per grade, but to influence getting in that class, not only isn’t fair, it sets a dangerous precedent. What’s next? Calling up Johnny’s boss after he gets a lackluster performance review? Sadly, this really is happening in the corporate world, I suspect by those same types of parents.

I say stay out of it as much as you can. It’s not your job, it’s the school’s. It’s not your business, either. It’s your child’s business. I know, I know, you’re their advocate, but I bet if you let them, they’d rise up to the challenge.

Have you ever tried to influence what teacher your child got? Would you?

About the Author:

I’m a freelance writer with bad hair, a loud mouth and a serious case of wanderlust. Whether it’s luggage, time or just life, I cram as much as possible into small compartments. Warning: Contents may shift during flight. My life is one bumpy ride! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.

4 Comments

  1. Kathryn 03.06.2015 at 10:55 - Reply

    My kids have been in school for a combined total of 15 years now. I have only made a class placement request once. My son had spent 3 years in class with a difficult classmate and it was taking an emotional toll on him. I asked for them to be in separate classes the next year (not with a specified teacher, just not with each other). I deliberately do not make requests based on the “boy who cried wolf” principle: If every year you make a fuss about where your child is placed, how likely is administration to take you seriously the one year that it is extremely important for you to be heard?

    • Jody 04.06.2015 at 22:06 - Reply

      Sounds like you did the right thing. Three years is a long time!

  2. Chelsey 05.06.2015 at 16:39 - Reply

    I was a teacher years ago and was a part of the classroom selection process. Yes, they make note of personality clashes between certain students and try to balance the amount of behaviour/esl/special needs students in each class.

    BUT, aside from that — your child could get lost in the shuffle. A child who doesn’t have special needs could find themselves placed in any class with any teacher.

    My daughter had no issues academically or behaviourally. She ended up with a grade 1 teacher who was not a good fit for her. Having a teacher who screamed and yelled (even when it was at other students) stressed my daughter out considerably. If I had known at that time about all the inappropriate things that teacher said and did throughout the year, I would have pulled my daughter out of that class mid-year.

    So — for grade two and grade three I specifically requested teachers that I knew were firm and fair, but that were not likely to yell as a classroom management strategy. My daughter’s emotional well-being was my main focus.

    Emotional well-being of quiet students who excel academically is not at the top of the classroom placement priority list. Schools will say they need to find the best ACADEMIC fit for every student, but the truth they often fail to realize is that if a child is *emotionally stressed* they will not be able to function well academically.

    I would not describe what I did as “manipulating” at all — even though I was requesting certain teachers to avoid other teachers. No disservice was done to anyone by my making a respectful request.

    My children were not taught to “buck the system” as you said because my children had NO clue I had even done this. I spoke to the principal privately. I did not demand to have my way — I explained my point of view.

    Of course I don’t agree with “coddling” as you so put it, but one person’s perceived coddling is another person’s wise decision. As a parent and as a teacher, I can verify that my daughter learned way more than she needed to from her grade one teacher…

    • Jody 05.06.2015 at 17:59 - Reply

      You bring up some great points. Thanks for contributing to the conversation. Much appreciated.

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