Parents Dilemma: What To Do if Your Child Gets a ‘Bad’ Teacher
When I walk into a restaurant with paper napkins and food served in reusable plastic baskets I am not expecting five star dining. However, I do expect that the letter grade posted on the door can be trusted. Obviously, cooking my own food is the only one way to ensure that what I ordered is safe to eat. But, home cooked meals aren’t always feasible. Sometimes I’m at the mercy of others and I am faced with the fact that I must trust someone else to do ‘it’ for me. Nothing reminds me more of such blind dependent trust than when I find out who my child’s teacher will be for the upcoming school year? Oh that moment when you hear the name of the teacher your child will have all year long. Either you jump for joy – because Ms. or Mr. So and So have a reputation for moving test scores. Or your heart drops because it’s a Mr. or Ms. So and So you know nothing about, or worse you know everything about and the word on the street is that the outlook ain’t too good. Any time I have the opportunity to find someone in my child’s school, who I know personally, I shamefully quiz them to see what insider info they are willing to give up. Which teachers are on an improvement plan? Which teachers can’t control their class? Is the principal always gone or fully involved? I know, I know…there’s not much they can tell me about other teachers without possibly putting their job in jeopardy. But the mama in me has to at least try. After generations of schooling no one in education has yet to universally agree on what makes a good or effective teacher. There is no question that inequities based on class, race and gender impact standardized test scores for which teachers are partly judged. Moreover, years of research consistently demonstrate that parental income and education have a profound impact on a child’s educational outcome. Nevertheless, teachers do play a critical part in this inequitable system. They are on the front lines when it comes to closing the academic achievement gap. Teachers that are deemed good or effective have proven to not only impact test scores, but also students’ potential future earnings. In a perfect world my children would have access to effective teachers and equitable resources. But in reality I will have to work with whatever teacher is given to us. I can’t even say that I would love to home school my children. Mainly because I don’t have the patience but also because I don't want to nor do I have the ability to give up working full time. Therefore we will have to depend on public schools and the teachers they provide to do it for me.
What can you do if you feel your child's teacher may not be the best (or even decent)?
- Set up a conference with the grade level administrator or principal to express your concerns. Ask about the teachers test scores for the last three to five years. If it’s a new teacher ask how often they are being evaluated?
- Set up times to observe class. Document students not engaged and address with grade level administrator or principal.
- With enough evidence/documentation you can request that your child be switched to another classroom.
- If your requests and documentation fall on deaf ears contact assistant superintendents at the district office – they usually listen.
- If all else fails…you may want to think about school choice for the next school year.