Thursday, June 23, 2011

How to request a teacher

I want to start by saying, I am not a teacher or a school administrator. Also, I know a lot of schools discourage or disallow parents to request a particular teacher for their child.  In our school, it is definitely discouraged but I've never been told my letter would not be taken or considered.  A lot of schools notify parents of their child's new teacher at the end of the school year.  Not our school.  We get an official letter from the school about 2 weeks before classes start.  I find this hard on the kids and some think about it all summer...who their teacher will be and who is in their class. It's better for everyone if it's presented at the end of the school year.  This way both teachers and students can prepare themselves for the start of the new year better.

Since my son's unfortunate experience with his first grade teacher, I have written the principal a letter asking her to consider certain teacher for my children.  The principal is the one that makes the decision in our district on where a child is placed.  Personally, I have a problem with this because I feel their current teachers (hopefully) know them best and can recommend the teacher that would be best for them.

Don't hesitate to write your school a letter concerning next year's teacher if there's a particular teacher you do (or don't) want for your child.  Always start out with a nice, warm greeting.  Mention positive things about the school year in general.  Not your child's class but the school.  Principals want to know that you feel they are doing a good job.  In my letter I wrote how my children enjoyed things such as: P.A.R.P, concerts, book sales and field day (the first one EVER!).  I spoke about my son's participation in Student Government and Ecology Club.  I think they like to hear of positive experiences with school clubs and activities.

After this you can ease into the main reason you are writing.  Speak to her/him about your child's learning.  Write about their learning style. Feel free to give examples.  Then, you can approach her with the idea of a particular teacher or teaching style.  I talk about my children's learning style and which teachers I feel match up well with them because of how they teach.  Our school is large, approximately 500 children.  I know that it is not possible for our principal to know each child on a personal level as far as their learning style.  I believe she knows each child by sight and hopefully (maybe) even by name, but I can't expect more.  I think if you're concerned about your child getting put into a class that is not appropriate you need to speak up.  Principals want their students to flourish.  It makes them look good, for one thing.  And many, love "their' kids and want them to thrive.

My letter spoke about my daughter.  I didn't write one for my son, as we've agreed he will be in a collaborative class next year.  We only have one collaborative class per grade.  So, it's a given who his teachers will be (though I have a dilemma there as be addressed later).  I wrote that she has flourished this year with her current teacher.  I explained that she is a student who is eager to learn, catches on quickly and thrives on new challenges.  She needs a teacher who will push her boundaries.  The teacher I felt that was best suited for her (and who my son had) won't be in our school next year.  I expressed my sadness over this.  Then I spoke of another teacher who's teaching style is similar to her's.  A bonus for us is that I heard her kindergarten teacher will be splitting the class with this teacher.  He is truly wonderful.  My daughter LOVES him!  He is great with all the kids.  His specialty is reading collaborative.  He often splits half day kindergarten and half day reading collaborative.  Next year he will be teaching second grade instead.  They have a strong learning bond with mutual respect and admiration.  I pointed all of this out.  I truly believe that putting a student with a teacher they thrived with in the past is perfect.  Why mess with something that has worked.

Never be pushy.  Do NOT tell her that you are demanding your child be put into a certain class.  Always, present another choice.  This will not get  you what you are looking for.  I did not get the first teacher I requested for my son two years ago. However, I did get my second choice.  This turned into a godsend.  The other teacher's class had a lot of distracting students that year.  My son, who is can't focus and is a distraction himself wouldn't have done as well. 

Also, if there is a teacher you don't want your child to have write about it diplomatically.  Hopefully you can present it in a way that you can avoid mentioning the actual teacher.  If Mrs. X is a yeller you can write that your child responds best to teachers who are soft spoken, etc.  If there's a student that is harassing/bullying your child you should bring it up in this letter and ask that they please not be placed together.  If occurrences have been documented, it will make your request almost a guaranteed.  I let my children fight their own battles for the most part.  However, I speak up and write the teacher a note or call the school when it's gone to far.  Thankfully I have only had to do this twice in 5 years.  I ask to be kept in the loop on how the situation was resolved.  If it becomes a continual problem I would ask that they not be placed in the same class the following year.

I hope this is helpful, especially to parents new to this situation.  I never thought I'd be one of "those" parents but I have no regrets.  First grade taught me to stand up for my child and fight (the right way) for their needs.  My son was lost in his first grade class.  Too many kids with the same issues (distractions, focusing, talkative,etc) were put into the class.  My son was lost but "just" got by.  He went from loving school to hating it that year.  His teacher had no control.  I ended up requesting that he be put by her desk so he would be forced to stay on task.  He did better after that, but by then the damage had been done.

I've learned...advocate for your kids.  Make sure they are in the right learning situation for them.  The brightest student will get by but not thrive in the wrong learning environment.

1 comment:

Not Winning Mom of the Year said...

Thanks for sharing. We are not there yet, but this is good to know. Also, thanks for popping by my place to visit.