Saturday, February 25, 2012

Your Child's Teacher; Who Cares What Parents Think?

Image from here

Yesterday I fired my OB.  The uneasy feeling every time I saw him could not be dismissed and I figured now was better than later.  His lack of concern for my well-being, his nonchalant attitude about having twins, his lack of communication all led to this decision and after I made it, I was relieved.  Sure I have to start with a brand-new OB at 16 weeks, but I think it is worth it.  So why do I share this bit of info?  Because I couldn't stop thinking about how much it had to do with the role a teacher plays in a child's life.  In fact, a child's teacher is one of the only things we have absolutely no say in as parents, one of the only areas in our life we are left without a voice.

In America, a child is assigned a classroom teacher at the elementary level and that teacher is the biggest educational influence that year.  Parents have usually no say in who that teacher is and have to place their faith in the hands of the previous grade level teachers and the principal.  Sure they can ask for a placement but I wonder how many principals actually honor it?  Now don't get me wrong, I can understand why every single parent doesn't get to pick their teacher -talk about a popularity contest - but still, shouldn't there be room for some sort of input?  After all, that teacher can make or break the future of this child's education and ultimate fulfillment in life.

Most of the time the placement of the child works seamlessly and there are no parent complaints, but sometimes it fails.  Sometimes the teacher's style of teaching, of communicating, of caring for that child flies in the face of what the parent believes in and that uneasy feeling crops up.  Sometimes a principal is involved, sometimes, the parent just sucks it up and hopes for a better one next year.  But is this right?  Should parents have to wait a whole year to get to a new teacher?  Shouldn't they be able to have a say in what type of teacher their child gets at the very least?  The type of nurturer and mind-shaper they think will benefit their child.

I think one of our downfalls in our schools is that we think we are the only child-experts.  That because we have taught for  amount of years we know what is best for children even if a parent doesn't agree.  I think that needs to change.  We need to allow parent input in placement, ask them about communication style, about homework and classroom management, ask them what type of environment their child will flourish in and then place that child accordingly.  Don't make it about the teacher; make it about the child and allow for choice in this sacred cow of the American school system.  I fired my OB, why can't parents at least decide who gets hired for their child?

2 comments:

Marty said...

Hi, Pernille. Good for you for making a change with your Doctor. It is so important to have a feeling of comfort and trust with you OB. And, I believe, on some level your twins felt the same way.

It is such a leap of faith in awaiting what teacher your child gets. We write a letter each year detailing the type of learner our kids are, what type of environment/culture they will thrive in, etc... I hope this input is welcome and considered with caring thoughtfulness.

bachwords said...

Thank you, Pernille, for addressing this particular elephant in the room. I wholeheartedly believe that a teacher can make or break the future of a child's education and their love of learning...or not. We recently had a very disappointing experience with one of my daughter's grade 7 teachers. To date, the teacher has not responded to meeting with us and my daughter has now dropped art club. You can read about it here: http://bachwords.blogspot.com/2011/11/when-passion-is-not-good-enough.html

We've since asked for consideration to not have this teacher as a homeroom teacher in the future. For all our children. This is the reply I received the VP: "Thanks for the email. While I appreciate your input and will put this on file, I cannot make any guarantees, as there are numerous factors taken into consideration when drawing up class lists."

As a parent, I feel as though my input is not valued, nor respected, nor welcomed. And the possibility of my daughter having this teacher in the future saddens me because it could make or break the future of her education.

Thanks again, Pernille. Truly an issue that needs to be addressed and greater dialogue encouraged.

 

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