It’s a new school year, which means your child has a new teacher. But what happens if they didn’t get their favorite teacher? Our education writer weighs in on this sensitive subject.
While relaxing at the beach with my kids last week, I noticed that my phone was literally blowing up in my beach bag. I rushed to see what the emergency was only to find that the class placement packets arrived that day. Instantly, I had ten messages asking me who my son and daughter got for teachers. I raced home and waited anxiously while I watched the mailman take his time, going from door to door with the over-sized school envelopes. When he arrived at my doorstep, I must have looked like a stalker as I stood there to personally accept the precious package.
Upon opening my packet, I must admit I was slightly disappointed that my kids did not get the teachers that I wanted. I had heard amazing things around the community about a certain second grade teacher whom I thought would challenge and motivate my son. I also had my heart set on my daughter sticking with her third grade teacher who had moved up to fourth grade. Neither of these things happened, but my kids were happy finding out who would be in their new classes.
In the days that followed, I was amazed at the frenzy that seemed to take place regarding these class placements. I seemed to be on the phone constantly discussing the teachers at my children’s schools. Who was a yeller? Who was too strict? Who was not academically strong enough? I had heard so much that I started to worry about my own two kids. I started to think about how I let myself get so wrapped up in this.
When I was a kid, my parents never called a principal or got involved with who our teachers were, and I had a great school experience. I can honestly say that I learned a lot from teachers who would not have been so popular today.
I tried to take a step back and block out all of the rumors that I had heard about the teachers in my kids schools. I know as a teacher, that kids form unique relationships with their teachers that parents are not aware of. Just because someone has a bad experience with a teacher, does not mean that I will have that same experience.
This predicament reminded me of an experience I had a few years ago. While I was teaching fourth grade, I had two very different colleagues. One was extremely strict and the other was bubbly and outgoing. Most parents in the district requested the bubbly teacher because she seemed so fun and energetic, while people complained and tried to switch out of the strict teacher’s class. What parents didn’t see was that the bubbly teacher, spent a lot of time giving the kids busy work while she texted her friends. Meanwhile the strict teacher had the kids engaged in meaningful work.
I realized that my kids needed to experience both the bubbly, fun teacher and the strict, challenging one. Their lives can’t always be filled with rainbows and sunshine, even though that is how I would love for it to be. They have to learn how to work with all different kinds of people and personalities in their lives. Sometimes the least popular teacher is the one that can challenge them the most. Getting through a tough year is an accomplishment like no other. I can remember being a kid and having a teacher who I was terrified of in September, and became my favorite teacher by June. I want to give my kids that same gift. So for now I am not listening to the negativity. I am assuming that my kids will do great with any teacher they may have and any challenges they encounter will be lessons learned along the way.
Happy School Year!