The art of vetting a teacher has become increasingly more important, as children compete in modern society. In a world where everything is a business, education has not lagged on the list of hitmakers. Stories uncovered about parents buying their kids’ admissions into the best colleges in the nation still rings in our ears. The recent scandal was just the beginning in the strong effort to get kids into the right schools. The pressure to attend the most elite institutions with the brightest kids starts at an early age.
In New York City, it isn’t unheard of for a preschooler to enter the interview process with his parents. Schools want to make sure that they admit the proper fit for their student body. Children as young as 4-years old report feeling anxious, a long way from their only worries being playing in nearest sandbox. By the time high school comes around, the anxiety levels developing shoot through the roof for many students. Getting a teacher right the first time provides a head start on the competition but is this what we should be aiming for? How do we help our children get the best value out of their education? How can we effectively examine teachers’ abilities without intruding with the school’s decisions?
My experience has been that teachers should incorporate knowledge and or expertise about a particular subject but also inspire student’s curiosity. Acquiring an instructor with the right balance is a task usually left at the mercy of the school. Depending on your district, you may have or not the option to choose your child’s instructor. There are plenty of schools that will not allow a parent to make class selections. In a city like New York, for example “you get what you get, and you don’t complain.” Schools have the job of making sure no one classroom is so overcrowded that a teacher can’t effectively teach. The even distribution of students in a city of this size is important to help create an environment that will allow for the best learning possible.
In instances where attention or learning disabilities are present, arrangements can be made to accommodate a student. Otherwise, changing your child’s classroom is not as simple as filling out a form. In instances when the choice is not ours to have, how do we vet a teacher to help make you child receives the most out of their experience? There are three things that I practice at the beginning of each school year. Incorporating the practice has greatly improved my daughter’s, as well as my own experience while navigating public schools. However, it can prove helpful in any school setting.
Make an Introduction
Establishing a rapport with teachers during the first week of the school year. I send emails to all the instructors introducing myself. I want to make sure teachers know I’m here to help and work with them to make it a successful year. You want them to get to know your name and your child’s, so they see you are paying attention.
Work to Stay Connected
Remaining informed and in communication with your child’s teacher is essential. Email has made our lives easier, people are more accessible. A quick line or two checking in on how the student is managing the workload can avoid hurdles during mid or end of year. Working with your child and teacher will save work and let you know if you need to step in to assist in any way.
Seal the Deal on the 3-Way Partnership
Show you are vested in your child’s education. It will keep your child engaged if you stay interested in what they are doing. Showing both the student and teacher that you are staying present is essential during their school years. It your job, as well as your child’s to remain a part of the conversation. A teacher can only take the student so far, it is a group effort not a two-person job.
The process of vetting our kids teachers is about finding out who the educators are as a people. We want to know they care about their students and have the will to want to work together. As a unit, so much more can be accomplished with a student. Time is a luxury we don’t have, therefore, using their time appropriately increases the chances you can get their support. It is the school’s responsibility to review resumes, interview candidates and send instructors for a test pilot.
From a parent’s perspective I can only evaluate what is placed in front of my child. In order to have the ability to help my kid is to stay aware. During the school year, ask questions about what is being learned in class. Check with your child to find out if they continue to be challenged. In addition, periodically ask if your assistance is needed in any of the areas of their education. The key to their success will be the collaboration of the leaders in their life. Parents, teachers, principals, community leaders should all be vested in the younger population’s education.
Vetting should not be about getting your kid in the most popular class or getting in with the right crowd. There are many good teachers that just do not have the help of the parents to support them throughout the school year. These are the ones we have to make sure we look after because they are likely to make an investment of their time, energy and skills towards your child’s learning. If you find a teacher that does not offer their best in class then having a candid conversation with the school principal is warranted. There are wonderful teachers that just need our help while others that look to come in to do a job and leave.
Everyone is entitled to work as they see fit but taking the oath of an educator is a responsibility. It should not be seen or done as a chore to check a box, if you come across the problem. Report it. There is no excuse for lack of empathy or desire to teach, if there is, a new career should be considered.
My experience with my own daughter’s education has put me in contact with a great number of teachers that have influenced her life in positive ways. We’ve had a hiccup or two where I believe I have been able to make a difference as an involved parent. The contrast between a mediocre and great education can sometimes be a matter of raising the bar for the teacher. If you display high expectations and are willing to work with school staff it will be an easier transition than trying to fight the system. It does not always work but worth the effort if it offers your child the opportunity for an upgrade in the classroom. The subtle art of vetting our kids teachers has to include keeping an open mind. Everyone’s job can be made a bit easier if we work in unison while keeping our eyes on the prize – your child’s success.