Requesting your child's teacher at the beginning of the year can be tricky. While you want what's best for your little one, you definitely don't want to alienate a certain teacher or be too demanding with the school administration. If you feel as though one teacher would be a better fit for your child, it's important that you approach the school administration early -- and with good reason. The more evidence you have to plead your case, the more likely you are to get the teacher you want for your child.
Check with your school to see whether the administration allows parents to request a teacher. School policies vary by district and you might live in a school district that disallows parents from hand-picking teachers. If your administration allows teacher requests, they likely have a protocol and due date for requests, so you'll need to play by the rules to get the best shot at the teacher you want.
Put your request in writing. A formal request letter means your request gets to the right hands. Simply telling a secretary or principal that you want a certain child for your teacher might be a request that's forgotten when it comes time to make class lists. A formal request in writing is the most concrete way to make your wishes known.
Request a teacher as early as the administration allows. Waiting until the last minute might mean frustration on the part of the school, especially if the class lists have already been organized. What's more, a popular teacher might already have been requested, leaving little room for changes. Find out when the administration starts organizing class lists and send your request well in advance.
Focus on the teaching style of a teacher, suggests James R. Delisle in his book, "Parenting Gifted Kids: Tips for Raising Happy And Successful Children." If you simply focus on requesting a teacher by name without any reasoning or supporting evidence, your request might be passed over. Instead, include why you think a specific teacher would be a good fit in your request letter, focusing on teaching style and philosophy over personality or friendships.
Explain how your child would benefit by learning from a certain teacher. You need to make a case for your little one. Keep your own feelings and emotions out of the letter, instead writing about your child's specific needs and how a certain teacher would fulfill them. Using personal stories can help make your case as well. Writing something along the lines of, "I feel that Johnny struggled with a strict schedule last semester and think that the creative learning environment Mr. Smith offers would foster his learning style," helps the administration understand why you're putting in a request.
Accept the school's decision if they choose not to authorize your request. Class lists are made well in advance and administration and teachers give thought to the balance of a class, school budgets and special needs when creating a classroom. If you become upset or angry that your child didn't get the teacher you wanted, your little one might pick up on the negative attitude and project it at school.
- If your child didn't get the teacher you wanted and you believe it could negatively affect his education, schedule an appointment to talk to the principal face-to-face about your worries and the possibility of switching classes.
- "Parenting Gifted Kids: Tips for Raising Happy And Successful Children"; James R. Delisle; p.57
- GreatSchools.org: Jockeying for Teachers
- EduGuide.org: School Issues: Submit Letters Requesting a Teacher
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