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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

What is the parents' role in teacher assignment?

August 5, 2009

"What teacher do you want this year?"

That's the question heard over and over again in my neighborhood. Moms asking Moms, Moms asking kids, and even kids asking kids: Who do you hope you get this year?

At the core of parent requests, of course, are parent hopes that their child spends the year with a teacher who helps their child thrive cognitively, emotionally, and socially. Parents whose kids have spent a year in a less than optimal environment can tell you that a school year can be a VERY long time when the teacher-child match was bad.

But do parents always know best when requesting a teacher? Maybe not always.

Personally, our principal is amenable to parent requests, with one caveat: no specific teacher names tied to requests. Parents can write letters that describe what they feel is the right setting for their child – a more loosely structured classroom or one that's more tightly run, a teacher with a particular passion (science, math, writing) or one with a higher or lower tolerance for noise, etc. The principal and teachers take these requests into consideration, and then they work out what they believe to be the correct placement for every child. I think a lot of principals use similar logic: seek parental input, and moderate that with input from school teachers and staff and the logistics of the grade level.

There's no question that the way teachers and students interact impacts learning, and that parents need to consider their child's unique educational needs. How do teachers help children feel comfortable in the classroom? How do teachers help children develop skills to get the most out of school each day? How to teachers support students through concept development, feedback and modeling? Recent research on teacher-child interactions suggests that several dimensions of teaching are directly linked to student achievement and social development, and that these interaction effects occur for children as young as preschool.

What do you think? What is the parents' role in teacher assignment?

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase