This year there seemed to be so much talk about requesting teachers. My son came home from school one day and said, “Mom, what teacher are you going to request for me next year, because I want ....”
He then told me which kids’ parents had requested which teacher. He wanted me to make a request so he could be with his friends. I told him he could “write a letter himself to the principal stating his reasons for wanting that specific teacher and that I’m sure she’ll consider it carefully.” He never got around to it.
I think I am in the minority in that I do not request specific teachers for my children. Many people I know talk a lot to other parents trying to find “the best teacher” for their child’s grade level. I understand why people do this. They want what is best for their child.
Here are my reasons we should try to avoid requesting teachers. First, the most popular teacher is not always the best teacher for your child. Furthermore, you are often choosing a teacher based on other people’s judgment and not on true teaching skill. Second, when one teacher is requested more than others, it’s hard to have balanced classrooms. A teacher may find herself/himself in a room full of lively or timid children. The personality of the class could be very overwhelming for the teacher, no matter how good she/he is.
Also, your child deserves to develop his/her individual personality in a classroom of diverse personalities. Third, your child will benefit from learning from teachers with varying styles. You cannot choose your boss, so learning to adapt and excel under different teaching styles is an essential skill your child will need as he or she grows. Last, handpicking your child’s teacher places a burden on your school that your school simply doesn’t need. We are lucky to have such a wonderful school district filled with great, qualified teachers. Let the teachers and administration do their jobs without telling them how to do it.
Although I do not make specific teacher requests, I think it is appropriate to make certain kinds of requests.
Special needs: I believe that if your child has a specific deficit, it’s acceptable to request that the child be placed in the best classroom to help your child with a specific problem, but let the professionals determine which classroom that is. (My daughter receives speech therapy from the school district, and her ability to learn to read is affected by her speech. I asked the speech pathologist if she would make sure that my daughter was placed in a class that would help her the most when it comes to reading. I don’t know who her teacher will be in the fall, but I’m confident that her needs will be met.
Previous negative experience: I think that if your child had a teacher you did not care for, it’s appropriate to request that your next child not be placed with that teacher. This “bad” experience should be your own and not your friend’s. (Let’s set good examples for our children when it comes to gossip.)
Bullies: I do think it’s fine to request that your child not be in the same room with a child who has a history of bullying your child or a child that you are pretty sure will derail your child’s effort to succeed in school. This request should be between you and the principal and should only be made if your feelings are very strong and not because your child doesn’t get along well with a couple people. We all need to learn how to deal with people we don’t like and with distractions.
This fall, have an open mind when it comes to your child’s new teacher, and encourage all of your friends and kids to do the same.