I received an email from my children’s school recently, asking if I’d like to choose their teachers before they all got together and made classroom assignments. Granted, my kids go to a small charter school, so there are only two classrooms per grade, but from what I hear from friends, many schools offer the option for parents to choose teachers for their kids.
Although I’ve never done this before, I’m considering it. My son is moving onto the middle school campus, and there are two teachers for the sixth grade: one who has taught at the school for nearly ten years, and one who will be starting as a brand new teacher this upcoming year. He had a bad experience with a brand new teacher a few years ago, and to avoid the same problem, I’m thinking about choosing the more experienced teacher for him. Still, there’s something to be said for letting these things work themselves out, and of course not all new teachers are the same!
If you are thinking about choosing your child’s teacher, here are some pros and cons to getting involved:
You can choose the teacher whose tutelage your child will best learn under. Not all teachers have the same teaching style; you can choose a more animated, hands-on teacher for a child who has a short attention span, or a stricter teacher for a child who needs a firm routine and accountability. Choosing your child’s teacher might be the best option if he has special needs; some teachers are simply better at devoting the time and energy necessary to kids with reading difficulty or who have a hard time staying in their seats. Finally, if a particular child has bullied your child (or vice versa), you can request that they not be placed together, making the classroom more friendly for both of them.
Your child should be able to learn from teachers with various styles, and always choosing a teacher whose style resonates with your child now can backfire when he’s in high school or college and has instructors who teach in different ways. Also, sometimes too many parents request the same teacher, making it difficult for the school to have well-balanced classrooms. Finally, choosing the “best” teacher may be based on gossip; if you haven’t had personal experience with a given teacher, then you might be setting a poor example for your child if you make a decision based on hearsay.
So, there’s no easy answer on this one. If you do decide to request a particular teacher for your child, do so early in the summer so that you have your say in before classrooms are assigned. Also, if you don’t get your choice, handle it with grace; remember, your child is watching how you will respond, so let him know that you are confident in his ability to handle whichever teacher he gets. If, once school starts, he really is having a hard time functioning in a particular classroom, then you can go in and make the appropriate changes with the principal.
Have you chosen your kids’ teachers? What has been your experience?