It never fails! Every year, within the first couple of weeks, I get calls and visits by parents who want their child moved to another teacher. The reasons are endless, but here are a few:
“My child and Ms. ____ don’t get along.”
“Ms. ____ is a mean teacher and my child is coming home crying everyday and doesn’t like school.”
“My child’s teacher isn’t meeting his/her academic needs.”
“I’ve heard some bad things about my child’s teacher…and the kids in the neighborhood have confirmed it.”
Again, there are many different reasons, but they all have one purpose; to get the school to change teacher assignments.
Now, before I move on, I need to say this…No administrator wants to keep a bad teacher! It’s not what is best for students!!!! Yes, some school districts have to deal with some serious teacher unions. Luckily, here in Texas, unions don’t have a strong foothold. But regardless of the factors, any “good” administrator can put “pressure” on their bad teacher. What happens when you put enough “pressure” on something? With enough pressure, every object will either change or break. So any “good” administrator will put enough “pressure” on a bad teacher to get them to change their ways and improve or break, causing them to quit and go somewhere else.
With that said, I can honestly say that I haven’t encountered a truly “bad” teacher as an administrator. I’ve encountered teachers who needed more skill in classroom management or some other little tweak, but never a truly bad teacher.
But, let’s say that your experience is different. You are not trying to manipulate or just going off the rumors in the neighborhood. Let’s say that you truly believe that your child is not getting the education they deserve. Try these steps.
1. Meet with the teacher and share your concerns. You will get a good feel for the teacher when you meet with her and share some of your concerns. All the “good” teachers will be more than willingly to meet with you and answer any of your questions. They will take the time to hear you, understand your concerns, and work with you so that your child gets what they need from their classroom.
2. Ask to observe the teacher while she is teaching. Every school has restrictions on classroom observations. But even the strictest of restrictions will still make a way for parents to observe their child in the classroom. NOTE – Some parents have wanted to go to the room unannounced…to “sneak up” on the teacher. This is not fair! Just like educators don’t make judgments on students, or parents for that matter, on only one occasion, parents shouldn’t do it either. You should want to observe your child’s teacher in the “best of times.” This will set the bar for the ability and instructional level of the teacher.
3. Communicate. I have sat in on many parent conferences where confusion or issues that upset the parent could have been handled with simple communication. An email or a phone call does wonders! Hint – Teachers want to communicate with you. They love involved parents who take time to invest in their child’s education. It makes their life easier. Teachers shouldn’t give specific information out over email, but they can answer some generic stuff. On the other hand – Don’t be a helicopter parent! Sending the teacher an email everyday and expecting a response isn’t good either. Get a hobby!
Side story – A parent wanted to meet with me about moving her daughter to another classroom. She believed that this was the best thing for her daughter and she knew best. She pleaded…PLEADED with me! The next day, I took the time to meet with the student to see if she had any concerns and to try to understand a little better why mom wanted her moved. Well, that day, mom came to school to have lunch with her daughter. The student told her mom that I had talked to her and then started crying because she did not want to move classes. The mom asked to meet with me soon after that lunch and pleaded…PLEADED that I not move her child! Just communicate!
4. Kick it up to the next level. If you try everything above and you sincerely believe your child is not being educated, you should kick it to the next level. The next level from the teacher would be the assistant principal…then the principal…then the assistant superintendent…then… If your objections are warranted, someone will work with you.
In closing, teaching is a hard job! Some people “go into teaching” because it is safe and reliable. Those people only last a year, two at the most! Teachers get into teaching because they care about kids, about teaching the next generation, about making a difference in a life. Some out there think that teachers get to school at 8:30 and leave at 3:30. I can tell you that is not the case. Let me say that again…THAT IS NOT THE CASE! You can’t even imagine the prep time that goes into lessons and preparing to teach. You can’t imagine the stress that comes from the added paperwork and the unfunded mandates that the federal and state governments put on them. You can’t begin to imagine how frustrated teachers get when they feel they can’t teach the way they know will help students learn best because the state standardized test carries so much weight in accountability…oh man…don’t get me started!
Let me just end with this, please take time to know your child’s teacher before there is an issue. Or at least give them the benefit of the doubt before you jump to conclusions. You might find that they care very much for your child and want them to succeed, just like you do!
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