Does your school take student requests for particular teachers?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by TrademarkTer, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Jun 10, 2018

    There are ineffective teachers in every school in every district.

    Parent requests will continue to be honored as they are a district-mandated option.
     
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  2. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    At my children's high school, parent or student requests for teachers are officially not considered. No idea if they are unofficially considered. I do know once a schedule is in place that they won't change you from one section to another to get a different teacher.

    At the middle school I teach at I know they'll consider parent requests. However, when setting up which team a student will be on the main consideration is keeping students apart who had issues with each other in elementary school.
     
  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    My school accepts parent input on the qualities they would like in a teacher, as well as peers that they do/do not want their child placed with. Requesting a teacher by name is not allowed, but it doesn't always stop a parent from writing a name on a form. We generally, but don't always, honor their requests. Students get no say at all. It's an elementary school.
     
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  4. Bibliophile

    Bibliophile Companion

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    SOOOOoooooooooo, yeah, California teacher here and this is absolutely not true.

    Perhaps it is true where you are, but that would mean that you have a strong local union. Or perhaps there are other factors at play. CTA is not power house that is insumountable with the power that makes admin every where cringe and hide in fear. In Ca I have I have watched good, tenured teachers get fired just because admin didnt like them. I have watched crazy parents push for dismissal of teachers in instances that were unfounded and it worked. Permanent teachers most assuredly can be fired in California.

    If admin is aware of poor teaching then they are more than able to do something about with documentation and the proper channels. Parent requests shouldn't be necessary to keep students away from bad teachers as all teachers at a site should be more than capable of teaching and working well with all students. Period. Honoring parent requests just sends messages of inequality and creates a poor school climate among professionals.

    I say this as a teacher who got a lot of requests. I actually shook a moms hand last week as she introduced herself to me and said how much her child wants to be in my class. It was very sweet, but I've seen my class list and she isn't on it. The teacher she has is a fine teacher and she will do just as well in the other class.

    At my sons school you couldn't request a specific teacher but you could write a letter describing what would be a "good fit" for your student and why you think so. Well I wrote my little letter and I didnt get the person I wanted. The teacher that he got instead ended up being the best teacher he ever had. They developed an awesome connection and he used his recess to help in her class for the next 2 year. He made awesome gains. Its awful to think that he could have missed out on that if the school had gone with who I thought was a better teacher for him and gone with my request.

    I also had the reverse. I got exactly who we wanted and who I had described in my letter...worst year ever. My kid learned nothing, fell behind academically, went from proficient to below level in 2 content areas, and picked up some bad behaviors that year which the next teacher had to work hard to break. That teacher left the district at the end of that year.

    Parents dont know enough about what goes on in each room to know what they are talking about. 9/10 just request teachers who are good at the dog and pony show or who have really fun projects. I am pretty sure 2 of my PBL's are behind all of my parent requests. My class is much more than those 2 PBL's and the other teachers are so much more than the fact that they dont do those 2 projects. Just say NO to parent requests!
     
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  5. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Jun 12, 2018

    I agree... It kind of falls into the "what does it hurt?" category to me.

    There's no formal system for requesting teachers, and I'd imagine parents are told they can't request teachers, but as the saying goes the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

    I get how it could seem like the other teachers are sub par, but I don't view it that way. Many times requests come from families who had older siblings in a class and want the same teacher for the younger siblings. I think it is nice to have those built in family relationships.
     
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  6. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Enthusiast

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    That’s great that that worked out for him, but his experience does not speak to the general population of students in high school or below.

    Like I said before, it only becomes an issue because you make it one. If more people were accommodating and less rigid, then we would have more positive student outcomes. The current system obviously is not working if so many students are underperforming and I imagine that it has to do with, in part, their dissatisfaction with some of their teachers.

    This comment is not directed at you, but I don’t blame some students for wanting to be taught by certain teachers in certain classes. Take my classes, for instance. I’m a highly effective teacher (according to parents, students, and my teacher evaluations) because I’m not only knowledgeable and professional, but I’m approachable, constantly smiling, cracking jokes, positive of my students and encouraging of them even when they’re difficult to deal with at times. I’ve had students who came from public schools that their teachers seemed to brush them off, make snide comments toward them, drone on and on during lecture, and possess virtually zero personality. Plus, and here Is the big one, they act stereotypically old and grumpy all the time. I’ve had students who generally didn’t want to come to school get excited each day in my classes and turn their acts around because I made learning fun and engaging while interacting with them socially.

    Certain teachers — I’m speaking broadly here — need to be more lively and upbeat. Try listening to what your students have to say and actually addressing their concerns instead of being overtly dismissive. Secondly, teachers need to do more self-reflection and examine why students typically don’t want to be around certain individuals. There might be a reason for that. (You can still be strict and manage your classroom and yet still be inviting and humorous.)

    With that said, I once was asked by a colleague of mine how to get students to open up more to them and to not shy away from them. I promptly said, “Try listening to your students and not condescending them all the time for starters. I’ve seen you interact with students in the hall and you are habitually sarcastic to them. Why?”

    They were taken aback and saddened that I answered their question crudely, but my sincerity got them to self-improve and be more cordial with their pupils. Thereafter, students started liking them more, and miraculously, students started requesting to be put in their class more. They still taught the same way, but they weren’t so confrontational.

    It’s not always about the teacher being more or less effective in the classroom. If I was still a student and had to take a class with a grouchy and boring person, I would request to be put elsewhere at the soonest opportunity.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
  7. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Jun 18, 2018

    You just gave an example of such a teacher at your own site. What are you doing to change the situation?

    Parents absolutely should be able to request their students' teachers. That's the only way most districts will ever do anything about the bad ones. They respond when parents talk. If someone is getting all or none of the requests they may actually try to find out why.
     
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  8. 2ndTimeAround

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    Jun 20, 2018

    Other that assisting with PD and giving advice when asked, there is nothing I can do. I'm not an administrator.

    It does not take a popularity contest for administrators to see that something is amiss. They know before parent requests come through. They just choose to ignore situations most of the time.

    And please do not assume that parents request the better teachers. Parents know even less about what is happening in the classroom than administrators do. They hear gossip and act accordingly. At the high school level parents often request teachers that have the reputation of giving higher grades.
     
  9. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I agree.

    Parent requests do not always indicate the best teachers. It could indicate the teachers who give easy A's, the ones who assign less homework, or the ones who are the nicest (which is a good quality, but does not equal superior teaching skills).
     
  10. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Devotee

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    I'm surprised that some schools take parent requests. It seems like it would give kids with the most involved parents a leg up.
     
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  11. Aces

    Aces Comrade

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    Jun 26, 2018

    Same here. Students can't request to be in my classes, per se, but they can request a specific class I'm teaching. So for instance there's only two teachers that teach a senior physics class, so you've got a 50/50 chance. Although I think the counselors at least take it into consideration a little bit. For instance me and the other physics teacher are COMPLETELY polar opposites of each other. He uses his text book to preach from, I use it for test questions and something to press leaves with... So students will sometimes request him over me and vice versa but how much of it is actually honored I have no idea.
     
  12. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    exactly. The same students that are less likely to need the better teachers.
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Jun 27, 2018

    Should there be that much discrepancy between teachers such that there is markedly better teachers than others?

    I understand that every now and then there will be an exceptional teacher because in every aspect of life there is an exception, but if often there is a distinctively better teacher, there is a problem.
     
  14. Aces

    Aces Comrade

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    Some of it isn't exactly the teacher but rather how the student learns and the teachers style. Take me and the other teacher that does physics at my school. We're teaching the same material from the same book but in different ways. Some students struggle in his class come over to mine and they're golden. Some struggle in my class, go over to his and they're golden. So if you consider that, from a students perspective there's always going to be teachers that seem better because the material clicked for the student with that teacher.
     
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  15. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I agree. I think that all teachers should be competent and efficient. But the reality is that not all teachers are great. Or even good. Some teachers are better at some subjects than others.

    Let's say that Jefferson High has a good AP Psychology teacher. She's a member of the social studies department. This year she must teach freshman World History. She's not a historian. She knows very little about the subject. She's used to teaching juniors and seniors. She may be a good AP Psych teacher, but she's a poor World History teacher. She doesn't have the content knowledge and her classroom management style doesn't work with 14 year olds.

    Moms in the know could request the other World History teacher. Leaving the students with fewer supports with the teacher that is floundering throughout the year.
     
  16. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Maybe there's a difference between elementary and high school here too.

    Wanting the easy advanced chem teacher is different to me than wanting Mrs. Smith for third grade because the older sibling had her a year ago. I see a problem with the former but not the latter. So I guess, if I were the one making the call, I'd want to know why a particular student (or their parent) wanted a particular teacher.
     
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  17. TnKinder

    TnKinder Companion

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    I think for elementary, request are are made based on the temperament or perceived temperament of the teacher. I requested for my son’s in third grade based on the working relationship I had with the teacher when she taught K. She had good ideas, was very organized, had good classroom management and she was patient. I thought she would be great for my son who struggled with confidence. It turned out to be a rough year for him. She was a great K teacher but not so much in third grade teacher.
    I get requested a lot, but like the pp said, it’s because I taught the sibling.
     
  18. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Jun 28, 2018

    Not saying at all that this is the case with your child, but I've also seen parents request teachers and be disappointed for the reasons for described in your post.

    I've heard parents say when requesting a teacher, "My child has really struggled in the past few years because he has had bad luck with teachers, and I've heard Ms. Smith is great. I really want my child to have her."

    Sometimes, though, the child continues to struggle with Ms. Smith, and the parent has a hard time recognizing that Ms. Smith is not necessarily a miracle worker or that the child may actually have some behavior or learning challenges.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
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  19. TnKinder

    TnKinder Companion

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    Jun 28, 2018

    I’ve had that experience personally. This last year I had a repeater who’s mom requested me. She thought she had made a mistake with her first choice. The problem was that she expected her student to be perfect in all areas academic and behaviors. When I told her that same thing the first teacher told her, her child struggled severely. She was disappointed and told me so. She refused testing.
    With my son I made a decision based on a working relationship. I should have had a conversation with her beforehand and I would have found out that she hated having teacher’s kids. She told me on the last day of school.
     
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  20. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Enthusiast

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    Just because a student is socioeconomically disadvantaged it does not mean that they are more deserving of the better teacher. ALL students, regardless of wealth, should have access to the best resources available.

    Are you saying that because someone is not poor that they should get the crappier teacher?
     

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