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Do you ask for a specific instructor for your child or take a chance on class placement? Parents have different approaches.
In a school with a highly collaborative teaching culture it matters less which teacher your child gets. A highly functioning Professional Learning Community (PLC) is as close as it gets to a silver bullet for increasing student achievement. Most schools will claim to to be a PLC but few really are. Ask how often the teachers meet to work together and how they measure their students learning. If there are not specific times set aside for this collaboration and specific data used to measure learning you can assume the culture is not very collaborative. If the culture is not collaborative it is time to do your homework about the school your child attends and the educational culture of the school.
Parents who try to engineer the "perfect learning environment" for their child are only harming their child. Your child needs to learn to function (and thrive) in ALL learning environments, and later in life, in ALL job environments. This idea that "Johnnie" needs a certain type of environment to learn in is just nonsense. Unless a teacher has clearly crossed the line into unethical behavior, parents should set the expectation that their child will function within that teacher's rules. (Note: a teacher who has high standards is good for your child - too many parents criticize teachers for expecting the child to do good work.) Parents who don't create such expectations are creating a child who cannot function in a college environment and later, a job environment. Do you really think your child's future boss is going to agree to create the perfect environment for your child? How is that even possible - everyone at the business is going to have different needs, and everyone needs to be able to adapt. If you don't foster that adaptability in your child early on, you're setting them up to fail later in life. (Just ask the people who see kids straight out of college fail in jobs.)
It doesn't matter how good of a teacher you are or have if the student refuses to learn. If the student doesn't want to learn and actively refuses to work with the teacher, it won't matter how good the teacher is.
I disagree completely with mariezz. Because of union protections, there are a lot of teachers who just don't have good classroom control, or who don't communicate well with parents or kids--who keep their jobs.
I don't think parents should pick teachers every year, but if it's well known that the school district is hanging onto a suboptimal teacher in the elementary years, I would say it's a parents' duty to make sure your kid avoids her or him.
My 8 year old boy is "high functioning autistic" and can work in the mainstream classroom, often at an academic level above his peers; but with the wrong classroom environment, he will shut down, act out and even just leave (just try to stop him). His SPED case manager, social worker and therapist all get together each year and help choose the teacher... so far, so good.
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