Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting the “Right” Teacher

I remember waiting anxiously for the letter to come announcing the teacher my child would have for the upcoming year. So many times, it seemed like I didn’t get the best choice. Now, as a teacher myself, it’s interesting to sit on the other side of the desk, and wonder how many of my students’ parents think that they could have done better.

In truth, most of the times when I was disappointed with my child’s placement, I was proved wrong. Once given a chance, the teacher came through and gave my child an excellent education. It’s so easy to get caught up in rumor and speculation and believe your child MUST have a particular teacher or he will be doomed to failure. Yet, there are many factors that go into creating a cohesive class, and usually your child’s best interests are considered.

For example, would your child be best educated by a teacher who will push her to work harder or is the gentle approach better? Will the other kids in the class form a complementary unit or are there kids who are more disruptive? In the end, it’s part teacher, part students, and part how it all works together that makes a class a success.

Where I teach we take great pains to create the most effective classes, getting input from the child’s previous teacher, the preschool director, and sometimes the parent herself. If we think two students prevent each other from being most successful, we work hard to separate them. If we believe a child is best served in a smaller class, we make sure she is placed there. If there are children who need additional support, we place them in a class with an extra teacher.

In other words, it isn’t the teacher alone who should make you pleased or not when you get your child’s assignment. Give it a chance even if you don’t get your first choice. Maybe, instead, your child got the best choice for her.

And, in the worst case, even a not-so-great teacher is a learning experience for the child. My daughter had a really crummy teacher one year. I believe she made my child more doubtful about her abilities. While I wish she hadn’t experienced that, it did force our family to work harder to instill confidence in our child ourselves. It taught her that sometimes you have to make a bad situation work, which is an important life lesson at any age.

So, when you open your letter, stay positive. Have faith that your child will have a wonderful year.

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