This is another one of those highly divisive issues that seem to plague large schools all across the country, yet I don’t see a lot of conversations about it online. Anytime there are multiple classes per grade level or subject area, teacher reputations spread throughout the community and parents (as well as students) begin to express a preference for one teacher or another. These requests might be submitted in writing to the principal, or shared casually. But either way, schools have a big decision to make: should they honor or deny parental requests for specific teachers?

Many people don’t realize the enormous amount of factors that are considered when creating class assignments before the beginning of the school year. There needs to be a semi-equal distribution of students by gender, achievement levels, and behavioral concerns (and balancing all three of these factors simultaneously is no small feat.) Special considerations must then be made for the placement of English language learners and students with special needs. Often student-teacher personality conflicts are considered, as well as interpersonal conflicts between students who need to be separated from their peers. Then, just when a near-perfect balance has been achieved, it’s announced that a student is transferring in or out of the school, and more changes have to be made on a weekly basis all throughout the summer. I’ve been involved in the process of student class assignments many times, and it can take hours for just a single grade level. When you add dozens of parent requests to the mix, the job becomes almost impossible.

That said, I believe that parents have the right to do what they think is best for their kids, and their concerns about the classes to which their children are assigned are valid. It’s been well-documented that the skills of a child’s teacher have a far greater impact than the reputation of the school as a whole. In other words, it’s better to have an outstanding teacher in an average school than an average teacher in an outstanding school. The issue goes far beyond just academic achievement: teachers shape students’ personalities, attitudes toward school, and outlook on life.  I certainly don’t blame parents for requesting an educator whose teaching style and personality is the best fit for their child.

So what’s a principal to do?

Picking and choosing which parental requests to honor creates a minefield of problems. What happens if one parent finds out his or her request was not honored but another parent’s request was?

If all parental requests are honored, the effect on the school can be chaotic. Parents who request specific teachers are often highly involved in their kids’ education and support learning at home. If all of those children are placed in one class, that means the other classes will have a disproportionately high number of families who are not actively involved in education. This creates a difficult situation for the other teachers, and an extremely unfair situation for the other kids, who may be assigned to less capable teachers simply because their parents weren’t able to advocate for the “star” educators. (Whether the toughest kids should go to the best teachers is another debate altogether.) When principals and teachers create class lists without input from parents, they have greater freedom to look at the big picture as they consider the needs of all students and how the school will function as a whole.

But if no parental requests are honored, principals run the risk of upsetting their most vocal and potentially supportive families. In some cases, those parents make the lives of both the teacher and the principal miserable until their kids are transferred into the desired classroom. Regardless of how well the parents handle the news, they’re still prevented from having a say in which person will assume a tremendous amount of responsibility for their child’s education over the course of 35 hours a week for almost an entire year. Parents can choose their children’s caregivers and babysitters–it seems natural that they’d have some sort of say in their kids’ teachers, as well.

What do you think? Is there a solution that’s fair for students, parents, and teachers? How are parental requests handled at your school?



  1. Jenny

    Our school has sort of sidestepped this issue. We send home a paper late in the year with questions for next year. It asks parents to let us know what kind of teacher they think is best for their child. That way they can give their input and help us find the best fit for their child, but they can’t request a specific teacher.

    • Angela Watson

      Ooh, Jenny, that’s VERY smart! I love it!

      • Colleen

        Our school allows parents to write a letter to the principal describing the type of teacher they want their child to have. As much as possible, it seems those requests are honored. I am sure some slip through the cracks, but it seems a fair way to do it. They also have a placement committee that works with parents who are unhappy with their child’s current teacher. The meeting format and the discussion often helps parents see the teacher in a new light and they make the decision to keep their students in their originial class.

    • Janice

      My school also sends out a letter requesting information about child and teacher placement that parents want us to consider. It clearly states that they cannot request a teacher, but they write it at the bottom anyway or send an email or catch us in the hall just to make sure we hear them. It’s challenging.

    • Amy

      My school does the same thing. The only other addition we have is if a sibling had a teacher before and as a parent you choose not to have the teacher again the request is honored.

    • Jan

      Hi Jenny can you please share the questions., rather than reinventing the wheel.


  2. Rebecca

    I love Jenny’s idea. I think it depends on how much of an issue this is in your school. If you only have a few parents making requests, it might be more feasible to work with them. But like you said, not everyone can get what they want, especially if there is one really stand out teacher on a team. I would say if a principal is getting an overflow of requests that can’t be met, then have some sort of system where they parents can request and explain in writing why they want a certain teacher and promise only to consider it, but make explicit that because student learning must be put first, that not all requests can be honored.

  3. Heather

    We are a new school and have always taken parent request. It has caused classes to be ‘stack’ with the same teachers always getting the “good parental involved families”. This has pitted teachers against each other & caused just a wee bit of drama. Due to this & reasons stated in your post 0ur principal will be taking only 1 written non-request per grade level, but the parents have to have a valid reason for the non-request for it to be honored. Meaning if there are 4 teachers in 1st grade then the parent has the option to non-request 1 of those teachers. This is what another school in our district does & is it very effective!

    • Angela Watson

      Interesting, Heather…so parents can’t request a teacher they want, but they can specify one teacher at the grade level that they DON’T want. Hmmm… Thanks for sharing that. I can imagine that solves the problem when the parent is not so much desperate to get their child into a particular teacher’s class, but just wants to avoid having a certain teacher. I didn’t touch on that in the article, but I think it happens a lot.

    • amber bailey

      I think that is a great idea and more schools should institute a similar policy.

    • Laurie

      I feel a little uncomfortable with this non-request idea. By focusing on the negative it causes everyone, including the admins, to excentuate the negative things that everyone does at some point. And parents end up talking to each other sharing negative info that they heard from someone else which may or may not have actually happened.

      • Angela Watson

        I agree. It’s a good idea in theory, but the way it plays out practically could definitely create problems.

  4. amykuti

    Hi! I don’t think the parent’s should be able to request teachers; It gives unfair advantage to some and a disadvantage to others. Honestly, with the new evaluations, I think that some one should come up with a program to give a true heterogeneous group to each teacher. That is the only fair way for us to succeed.

    Just sayin.. 🙂

    • Lori

      I totally agree.

  5. Bill

    Disagree with parent input. They should stay in the business of parenting while schools stay in biz of educating. Just my professional and personal opinion. Allowing parent s to dictate our job n profession is and would be a cancer to the integrity of the operations of a school, as well as undermine the principal’s authority. As servant leaders we are charged with doing what we think is in the best interest of the child. Although a problem at every level I am sure this is most rampant at the primary grades. What is the solution? Let your teacher s know your expectations and hire only the best and most caring educators. Peace

    • Paula

      Parents are sticking to the business of parenting when they are involved in how and who is educating their child!

    • Christina

      I disagree! My child had a teacher that I had no day about, and she was absolutely AWFUL to all of the kids, and my child was having behavior issues and falling behind significantly. In order to get my child away from her we had to change schools. At the new school the principal explained the teaching styles of each teacher and let me help choose. Now my child is doing better than any of the other years in school! It’s amazing what a little parent input can do for their child!! NO ONE knows a child better than a parent does!

      • Deepta

        I disagree with Christina that knowing your child means that you should be able to pick your teacher. I work at a private school and the teacher requests have gotten out of control, the school is allowing every parent to make any and all requests (for or against teachers or students). For example, my grade level has many different teachers, all professional, all teaching to the same goals. There are many factors at play for these parent requests:
        -parent gossip (parents wanting to be with other PARENTS in the same class, parents feeling like there is a “cool” class, a “sweet, nice” class or a “strict” class
        -teachers being chosen based on the way they look (etc)
        -teachers being stigmatized based on the difficulty level of their class (students with behavioral issues in the class), which is perpetuated by continued requests every year as it is IMPOSSIBLE to fairly balance classes if you continue to accept parent requests
        -there are ways that the school has put some teachers in the spotlight

        As some other commenters said, it can (and does) create a lot of tension between staff, especially since all the teachers can see all of the parent requests, in order to make the classes for the following year. I am not the kind of person who wants to be involved in any kind of popularity contest, but I can’t lie and say it doesn’t affect to me to see that I have negative requests, and that the other teachers and administrators see that. Especially when I know that I am a nice teacher working my buns off, just like my colleagues!

        While I can understand the desire to choose your child’s teacher (I have my own children), I am realizing more and more the value in trusting a school and adapting to the teacher you are assigned. Even the idea of using the “teaching style” to decide a teacher…. teachers are constantly evolving and adapting to our students. I don’t believe it’s fair to be put in a box of “teaching style”; every group of students is completely different and every year can look pretty different for a teacher. With a well behaved class, a teacher does not need to be strict as they would with more out-of-control kids! If students are excelling in an area or behind in another, you adapt your teaching to that. All this being said, I know there are some “lemon” teachers out there, or maybe some that don’t adapt to their students at all, but not as many as parents would like to think. I love that one commenter said he was in for a huge surprise when his child ended up loving the teacher they didn’t want. Schools need to be confident and make decisions about their classes and teachers, not let the parents take control, like what is happening at my school.

  6. Christine

    Our principal has asked parents requesting a particular teacher to write a letter stating the reason they believe one teacher would be a better fit for their child than the others.

  7. Thomas Thieme

    Our Open House is the spring is treated by parents like a trade convention. They go around to classrooms, take pictures, notes, and “interview” us. But the truth is, it’s impossible to meet every request. Too many new kids show up in August and last-minute changes have to be made to rosters.

  8. Tracy

    I have mixed feelings on this. More often than not, the parent who requests a particular teacher is doing it thinking that it will be the best fit for their child–but they can’t see everything ELSE that is going on behind the scenes to determine the best fit for the other 80+ kids in that grade level. So say the child gets the teacher the parent requested and it turns out that that teacher (or the makeup of the rest of the class) IS NOT the best fit..then what? You have an upset parent who got exactly what he or she asked for and it still isn’t working out–it affects the teacher’s relationship with the student, the parent, and ALL the other parents when the one who made the request invariably voices their displeasure publicly.

    The other side of this are those parents who target the teachers they think they can control–not those that are best for the child. It’s the bully parents I worry about more. They target a newish teacher who has a reputation for being kind, being cooperative, and one who is known for working with parents to do whatever it takes to help his or her students. Soon as the school year starts, the parent demands changes be made to accommodate the needs of the child that are absolutely out of line and that affect the rest of the class. This is the parent who demands meetings during lunch, planning periods, after school several times per week. It’s the squeaky wheel, unfortunately…one wrong step and the teacher’s reputation is ruined.

  9. Jennifer

    Our high school is quite large – over 800 students per grade – and I shudder to think what our counselors would have to go through to honor parent/student requests for specific teachers. No, we have a master schedule of courses on the computer, and the computer does the shuffling.

  10. Sharon Gardner

    The elementary school that I teach in, has in recent years, has ability grouped the students. This has stacked the classes. The same teachers get the higher students every year and the other teachers get the lower students. As in your article, burnout is a major problem. The majority of our students come from lower income families and low parental support. I wish we evenly grouped our classes, but administration seems to think differently.

  11. Mindi

    There are not an overwhelming number of parents who request a particular teacher. If they do, we (the teacher and/or principal) decide if we think it is a good match or not and may or may not agree.If we don’t agree, we just say that classes haven’t been decided or that we don’t think it will work out well. The principal tends to place certain children with certain teachers which may unbalance classes, but there’s not much that can be done about it. We’ve also had parents say they do NOT want a particular teacher. Those are almost always complied with because the teacher doesn’t need an unsupportive parent and there are often valid reasons.

  12. Nicholas Kleve

    Schools and educators can sometimes be very dismissive of parents. In the book, Dealing With Difficult Parents by Todd Whitaker and Douglas Fiore, building relationships with parents of our students is critically important. The authors note that parents are vital stakeholders in the success of our society’s young people.

    I believe many schools do a lot of damage to parent/school relationships. When parents speak up and make requests, it is because those parents want the best for their children. They may have valid reasons for wanting specific teachers, and those requests should be considered. If schools completely ignore parent input, those schools fail to build and strengthen relationships with parents. I am certainly not saying that schools can always honor every request by parents; however, parents need to know that their voices and concerns are being heard and matter.

    I have had some parents come directly to me requesting that their children be switched to my classroom. After listening to these parents and reassuring them that their children will have a great year even if not in my room, the parents are usually fine. The key is to build and strengthen those vitally important parent/school relationships.

  13. jazzy

    It’s so not fair when school employees get to choose who they want their kids to have for their teachers but the rest of the student’s parents don’t even have a say. I see this every year.

    • Julie

      Exactly! I agree!

  14. Lisa

    There is no easy answer. Teachers popularity in a school community is not necessarily a reflection of their ability to teach. I have had classes as a result of parental requests and they were difficult – usually the tricky kids socially and behaviourally which meant most of my time was spent on developing relationships and managing behaviour.
    The other issue with classes is a lot of time and effort goes into placing children – on paper all looks balanced but put a group of individuals in a classroom and the reality is different.
    Our school now asks for class requests in writing with reference to academic, social or behavioural considerations much easier to address individual concerns.

  15. RJSchwab

    In our small school in East Texas, our principal told us it was the law who opened up parent requests. The school is required to honor requests. This isn’t broadcasted, but some parents know. This isn’t always an issue since we don’t have more than 2 teachers for each grade level.

    • Jan

      We’ve been told the same but I haven seen this law and I know our counselor will tell patents they can’t have things they request. Unfortunately the counselors don’t know the kids the way we do (in the wild) and they’ve put a few very bright and eager kids in inclusion classes but they put struggling kids in Pre-AP as a behavior solution. It causes a horrible mess.

  16. Kay Mason

    My mother-in-law told me several times about hoping her older son would get into the first grade that had the cute, peppy teacher and beautiful bulletin boards, but he was placed in the other class. She said that once she looked past what she thought was important, she realized what a great teacher he had.

  17. Heidi Butkus

    As a teacher that has received a lot of requests for children to be placed in my Kindergarten class, I can tell you that often times, being on the receiving end of the requests is no picnic! For a couple of years, I received quite a lot of difficult children whose parents “chose me” because they knew their children had special needs.
    Also, I often find that the parents that usually make the requests are often the most likely to make complaints when something goes wrong. Consequently, my most difficult years teaching have been when I have had the most requests in my class! Since the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, a high need child often means a high need parent.

    Sometimes, parent requests can work in the favor of the teacher, and other times, they work against the teacher. But they almost always cause issues such as jealousy and animosity amongst the staff. I think that as a teacher, I would be happy to say good-bye to parent requested class placements!

  18. Susan

    As a teacher, I WANT my parents to be able to request me, ESPECIALLY if I have had a sibling and we have developed a good relationship. As I told one mom just last week, “You know what to expect in my classroom and you are already comfortable with me and my teaching, it makes sense!”
    I can see how some classrooms might get stacked, but then again, if administration hasn’t done their job in staff placement , why should my own child be punished? I pick my own children’s teachers based on the teacher’s teaching style.

  19. Carrie Horn

    I am now on both sides of this issue. A couple years ago my daughter was terrified of a male teacher in her school and I asked the principal if there was any way she could have a teacher that was female. She ended up LOVING the male teacher when he taught her reading group and other groups in her class. Was it in her best interest for me to try to shield her? We still talk about how much she loved him. I am just finishing my first year teaching and I don’t know how I feel about requests yet. In line with the article I do know that there is SO much to consider when placing a student and that placing all children in a requested slot would make it impossible to create a good classroom.

  20. Wandag

    It is not so much parent requests for a teacher that are the problem but rather the request that certain students be in the same class together. Now there is a real nightmare. Then there are the kids who can’t be together either because of temperament or parent request so when you only have 2 or 3 classrooms this is another problem. Often teachers do know best which students to put together with which teachers and with which students. They do try their very best. Teachers don’t want students to be unhappy.
    But still it can be difficult to ignore parent requests whether for teacher selection or for friends in class.

  21. Jennifer

    I’m in the position of having 3 of my children at the same school that I teach at. You can bet that I went and asked for specific teachers for my children. If a parent knows that a particular teacher is a better fit for their child’s personality, or they have better classroom management etc, then I think its ridiculous to punish those children by putting them in an inferior class just so that everything is “equal”. So what if one teacher gets all of the kids whose parents are actively involved? Maybe that will make the other teachers sit up and take notice and adjust their teaching. When teachers can affect student outcomes for YEARS, it makes no sense to not enable students/parents to have a say. Also, I find it rather silly that each class must be balanced with low, middle and high students – in order that the low achievers have peers to look up to and be supported by. We make a big deal of peer tutoring, but fail to realize that in most cases we are holding back our high fliers in order to bring along the low and medium ranks. Is that fair to them? If we are all honest as educators we can probably point out at least 1, if not more, ineffective teachers in our buildings. Why on earth should we feel that we are being fair to put children in that class just so that the students with uninvolved parents might have a chance to be in a good teacher’s classroom. And, with parents so uninvolved, will the best teacher even make as much of a difference as would be possible with the student of involved parents?

    Unfortunately, when we do not weed out ineffective teachers we are bound to end up in a situation rife with unfairness. I don’t think we should compound that unfairness by denying parental choice in teacher assignments.

    • Debbie

      The unrequested teacher is not always “ineffective”, sometimes the parent is trying to avoid a teacher who has high expectations for his or her students. I am both requested and not requested. I have high expectations for my students. Many parents want me for this reason and many do not.

    • Leslie

      I believe, as parents, we all want what is best for our children. As a teacher, you may have a little more insight about what is best for your children, both academically and personally, in the classroom. I do, however, agree with Debbie. An unrequested teacher may not be ineffective. I believe that the school administration is more capable in determining their effectiveness than we are as parents. Who is to say that a teacher that someone had trouble with isn’t the best teacher for my child. What they have to offer could be exactly what makes my child a better student. I know I will not always be there to make decisions for my children and I know each year there will be an opportunity for them to learn something…even if it is how to deal or cope with an undesirable situation. I think the ability to do that will serve them well throughout their lives.

    • Tom

      Your statements made me so angry, I needed to take a few breaths before replying. Requested does NOT equate effective! I’ve seen teachers getting high numbers of requests because their classrooms are pretty, or because they do crafts all day, or because they’re easy. I’ve seen plenty of teachers being passed up because they have high expectations for their students and parents choose ease over good, honest, hard work and achievement. Plus, teachers making requests within their building for their children is ridiculous and unprofessional. It’s a great way to ALIENATE other professionals you’re supposed to be cooperating with. It’s just wrong. Lastly, with teacher evaluations forcing teachers to compete with one another, classes should be evenly grouped.

  22. Jami

    I am a building principal. Many parents attempt a casual conversation or phone call to request or nonrequest a teacher. Once I ask for it in writing – a very few number follow through with it. I always respond that we try to balance numbers however valid concerns from parents will be considered. No guarantees but at least they are heard.

    Our biggest problem is the placement of children and grandchildren of teachers.

  23. Linda

    I have worked in both larger (multiple classrooms per grade) and smaller (one classroom per grade or split class situations) schools, and in each school the administration would accept parent requests in writing, to be taken into consideration. But it was not advertised. Administration always stated to the parents that the students would be divided according to ability, gender, social, behavioural, and personality considerations. Sometimes we agreed with their request and sometimes we did not. Yes, parents do know their children the best, but teachers know the classroom the best, and how a group of students will work and live together when there are 25 of them (as opposed to 2 or 3 at home of different ages not required to concentrate on learning for 6-7 hours per day). I do not think a class should be stacked with higher or lower academic achievers or with all or none of the behaviour challenges. Not only does this unnecessarily burden teachers, it widens the gap between the levels of achievement, and creates a stronger case of the haves and have-nots. “Oh, that’s the smart class. We’re part of the dumb class.” This happened when I was an elementary student. The class one year below me was a small group of 14, so the decision was made to have 7 placed with the grade above (my class) and 7 with the grade below. The groups of 7 were originally chosen by academic ability. All the students soon figured out which ones were considered smart or not. Then the decision was made that the arrangement would last throughout elementary – to create better classroom cohesion and community the students were never rearranged. It was an interesting social experiment, but the gap in the levels of learning widened, and one group was always known as the “slow” ones. Not a good plan.

  24. Yolanda Graham

    I would think that schools should at least listen to parent requests for certain teachers and try to honor them as much as possible, letting parents know that it is not a guarantee but the concerns will be considered. Another aspect to solving this problem would be for school leaders and teachers to create an atmosphere that minimizes teacher competition and enhances grade level collaboration. Grade level cohesiveness also becomes a part of the school and teacher reputations. I had an interesting conversation with a former parent of mine who is very active in our school. She named 2 grade levels in which she stated it did not matter which teacher her son got because she knows that they are strong teams. Please understand that I’m not saying that teachers should be carbon copies and do all of the same things, but (in many cases) grade level teams can be encouraged to work together and share things that work so that families can see how well they work together.

  25. Learning Girl

    There have been some really interesting ideas and perspectives in the comments. As a parent, I think I’d be reasonably satisfied if the school said they’d welcome parent input but can’t make any promises about the results. They could consider parent preferences, but leave room to override them when it just won’t work out with all the other concerns. I’d assume most parents would not challenge the override once they put in their initial request, and those who do get what they want can’t prove whether it was due to their request or just the way the dice fell in the first place, so no one can really complain that you listened to someone else’s request more than theirs.

  26. Thomas Thieme

    Parents don’t always know what’s best when it comes to teachers. Some parents succumb to their own prejudices and preconceived notions. When I was a young teacher, some parents were appalled that their child might get a male teacher in second grade. Some even suggested to the principal that a male who chose to teach second grade must surely have “ulterior motives”. However, when I was assigned to third grade the next year, some of those same parents requested me so their child could continue with me. They just need to be open-minded to what the school decides.

    • Jan

      While I agree that parents might not know what is best in a teacher, I am okay not to have their child if they don’t believe in me for whatever reason. I am both highly requested and not requested-those not wanting me usually want something for their child besides a good education and I have a reputation for good classroom management and good communication/documentation. Those who want an easy A and no behavior consequences don’t pick me and that’s fine by my.

      I’m also a department leader and I spend a lot of time coaching my team so they can be equally as tough. The sooner the parents making the latter type of request figure out we’re not here to play games, things can settle down. I’ve got one who was removed from my class last year (went through every teacher on my grade level and subject) who complained he was miserable with the other teacher this year. He’s back with me. I don’t mind. He knows what to expect.

  27. Allie

    Our school has a problem with this. There is a ‘pipeline’ of teachers through the school that always get requested. Typically they end up with a group of students that has been together each year because their parents request the same teacher. Often these are teachers kids or super-involved PTO parents-kids. Unfortunately not only does it create conflict between teachers, but by the end of those years, it can cause a big problem for the requested teacher. We’ve had groups of students that go through the ‘pipeline’, and by the end they are ‘too cool for school’, because they’ve got their best buds in class & feel like they can do anything. Then the requested teacher has to try to deal with a situation that should have been avoided by splitting up the students.
    Sadly, the opposite is also true sometimes. While some parents requests are honored, some parents are not. It is not unusual for a parent to request a teacher, but another teacher requests that student, so administration honors the teacher’s request. This causes issues because now the parent knows how many requests are honored, but theirs was not. If that is the case, then I think the idea posed by someone else would work, in which parents can choose one teacher not to have & know it will be honored.

  28. Denise

    In my 20 plus years of teaching, it has been my experience that parents get together and request a teacher in order to have their child put with their friends. In less about the teacher’s style or effectiveness and more about their child’s social needs.

  29. Wanda

    Denise, never more true than when you teach in a small town with only 2 classes per grade where everyone knows each other.

  30. Heather

    I have been teaching in the same small-city school for almost 20 years. When I first arrived, the other Gr 1 teacher was a very strong, very well-liked teacher, and everyone wanted her because they knew her reputation. Thank goodness for my son’s friend who wanted me because he knew me. I will love that little guy forever, plus his parents who “wanted me.” It wasn’t that I wasn’t a strong teacher, it was the few people knew me. No I am viewed as the very strong, very well-liked teacher that everyone wants because they know MY reputation. The “new” teacher is in the same situation I was in years ago. Yes, she, too, is a very good teacher,people just don’t know it yet! When parents ask how they get their kids in my room, I feel it’s my job to thank them for their confidence, but to also reassure them that the other teacher is as capable as I am. I wish someone had done that for me years ago, instead of “taking all the glory.” What goes around, comes around!

  31. Laura

    We don’t take parent requests at all in my school and teachers cant request pupils either. Classes are made up by management taking all sorts of things into account to ensure balanced classes which suit the needs of every child as far as possible.
    We do sometimes have complaints but usually knee jerk ones which are solved by meeting the parents and discussing their concerns.
    The thing is the opinion of teachers that parents have, especially when the teacher has never taught their child yet, is based on hearsay and brief encounters. It is not based on what actually goes on inside the classroom and the quality of the learning experiences.
    The thing is that actually children can be very different at school than they are at home. Parents know their child inside out but when it comes to schooling do they really know how they interact in the classroom daily? Do they really know who they play with? Are they willing to accept that behaviour is an issue?
    Schools should be somewhere where every child is treated fairly regardless of how involved their parents are. They are places where the needs of every child is of paramount importance and they are the ones who can see the whole picture and how each child fits in. Parents only see things from the child’s point of view.
    As a parent I would not request a particilar teacher – I will let the management team decide on classes and support their decisions and my child from there.

  32. Shanna

    Sadly, our school has had trouble with teachers “campaigning” to get certain students each year. One parent or teacher can completely change the dynamics of the school by saying one positive or negative statement to someone about a teacher. Other parents quickly pass this comment along and it “sticks” with the teacher whether true or not. I don’t want to have a child whose parents do not want me to have them. They will be waiting for me to mess up, and it is only a matter of time before I do. I am human. At the same time, we face the issue of the same teacher at each grade level getting all the higher achieving and higher parental involvement students every year. It is hard to know what is the “right” thing in this situation.

    • Angela Watson

      Wow, that really is tough. I guess the only piece of advice I give you is keep telling yourself that parents’ opinions do not determine your self-worth. You have to be secure in the work you do in the classroom and not let rumors make you doubt yourself. 🙂

  33. Ronda

    This has been a major issue at our school for several years. Prior to our current administrator requests were usually made because of special concerns and there were very few. Over the last 5 or so years we’ve had an epidemic because specific teachers tell parents to go to the school and request them as their child’s teacher. Our administrator has tried to discourage this and has even ask that parents who requests write 2 teachers names. The shocking thing is that the teachers who are requesting parents to ask for them are not the best teachers. They’ve been caught in lies and manipulative circumstances that signal a deep set jealousy toward the dedicated teachers in our school. They campaign for themselves and then continues to try to destroy the credibility of good teachers by telling parents not to request them. The shocking think is the two teachers may not even be teaching in the same grade level. It’s a very stressful situation when you have some fabulous teachers being dumped on so those in charge are not bothered.

  34. Sheila M. Adams

    Parent selecting teachers is a huge problem and sadly it’s not necessarily because this “star” teacher moves the mountains. Rather, the “star” teacher may be well known in the community, great with PR, or she may have some “high profile” kids in class and other parents want their child to be in there too. The biggest problem I have witnessed is the stacking of classrooms. Some classrooms will be filled with bright, economically secure, well rounded students and the “other teacher” is loaded with students that have NO parental support, poverty stricken, ADHD, bad behaviors, lack of concern for an education and learning. With these obstacles a real factor and state teaching standards always in the back of a teacher’s mind, core content required, and college and career ready….How can this be an acceptable practice???? Most teachers are amazing and professional individuals, or I know they are at my school. When you stack a class by allowing parents to choose their child’s teacher, you are in effect setting another teacher up for eminent failure. I am firmly against it and when I began my career as a principal it will not be practiced. What will happen is this: If a teacher is failing at her job, I will assign a mentor to lift the teacher up. If the problem continues, we as a school will try professional development, and various other strategies to help the educator. If all fails, tenure will not be a part of the teacher’s future. It’s not for everyone. But, allowing parents to choose teachers you are pleasing a select few and telling the others they are not important enough, and the “other” teacher feels very unworthy.

    • Angela Watson

      I was nodding my head as I read your comment. I especially appreciate that you assign mentors to ineffective teachers. If we don’t give up on kids, we can’t give up on teachers. We need to provide extra support and encouragement to anyone in our schools who is in need of it.

      • Sheila M. Adams

        Thank you for bringing this to light Angela. I am hoping the practice of requesting is a thing of the past. I just don’t think it’s good for the morale of the school. Let’s face it, the school is made of of teachers, students, parents, and community support people. It’s not the building I’m referring to when I say it’s not good for the school. Individuals suffer with requests. We all are more efficient when we take what we get. Kids learn valuable life lessons when they accept the teacher that they’ve been placed with. Parents teach their children that we have to accept the hand we’ve been dealt. My parents never chose my teachers and I learned to adapt with different personalities, to accept things for what they are, and to work hard to make any situation better.

        • Angela Watson

          Great perspective. Thanks for sharing.

  35. Jessica

    This happens in my school every year. We have a new principal starting in July, so it will happen again. I had 7 colleagues come to me and tell me they were requesting me for 1st grade next year. While extremely flattered, not all of those children’s personalities will “work”. I’ve had staff children the last several years and mostly I’m o.k. with it, it’s harder when non-staff parents request you, who are high-maintenance. I worry more about the kids getting along with each other than anything else.

  36. Julie

    I have really bonded with some families on the past and would like to be able to have siblings to because I already have a relationship and trust built…. But our school takes NO requests (unless you are a child of the admin) and requests are purposely not fulfilled, so you are better off not requesting because then you for sure won’t get that teacher 🙁

  37. Debbie

    Here’s something else to consider. I’ve pen ever had a principal willing to let a teacher opt out of having a sibling of a former student if a parent requested me. Sometimes working with a family is difficult, and if parent requests are honored, I should be able to have my opinion heard.

  38. Tom

    When the year ends, we create heterogenous classes from info we get from the grade that had those kids during the expiring year. They’re based on performance, ELD, behavior issues, gender and ethnicity, who shouldn’t be with whom by requests of parents and recommendations of current teachers (In other words, making sure there’s a blend of all those categories). However, we get a lot of incoming kids showing up in August so classes do have last-minute switches. We know for certain the kids are not the way we set them up. It would not surprise us to know principals make some of those changes to please parents. Some principals definitely cater and it becomes a kind of currency between them and parents.

  39. Teacherstress

    I am the teacher that gets assigned the learners with the biggest challenges, the majority of boys, and the disruptive behaviors. Student growth bears out my skill which is beyond proficient. I have a Master’s degree and and have taught for many years and have trained many new teachers and mentored countless others. Sadly, I have no choice in my own career, I can’t pick the students I want, I can’t teach the courses I want to teach, and I have to deal with many students who have “ghosts” for parents meaning parents disappear and fail to partner up with the teacher. I have been on both sides of the issue, the mom advocating for my children and being the teacher that has to deal with the parent choice. Quite honestly, parents know nothing about us, administrators are forced to assign students based on ” what is best for students” and once again, the teacher is factored out of the equation. NO choice for teachers….
    What is best for kids? Vocal parents calling the shots? Would those same parents like others to take the drivers seat in their career choice? Parents can best influence their child’s education by becoming involved in the school activities and advocate for all of the students.
    #anotherreasonthatthegreatexodusofteachersisoccurring #lettheteachersteach

    • Angela Watson

      I appreciate you sharing your story. I hope this post and all the wonderful comments here have at least made you feel little less alone in a difficult situation.

  40. Rachel

    We have a similar situation in our school. You see kids “tracked” through certain teachers. Clusters of kids stay together year after year.
    But how does one REALLY know how effective a teacher is unless you spend copious amounts of time on their room? As an instructional coach, I have been blessed to get to know teachers on a different level & am constantly impressed with the quality of teachers in our building. I want to shout it out to all those parents who don’t want their child with THAT teacher. However, with confidentiality, I cannot disclose any of that information.
    Another thought is, what happens if the parent requests a teacher and it DOESN’t work out? That would be an awful lot of guilt to carry.
    As an educator, I do not request my kids’ teachers. If there is a personality conflict, it is a good time For my child to learn how to persevere. That is life.

  41. Lori

    We have a teacher in our school that recruits parents and their children. Administration has let this fly with disregards to the disproportionate ability levels of students in grade level classrooms. We are trying to get this changed especially with our new evaluation system. The playing field needs to be equal or as close to equal for all grade level classes. I’ve read some great ideas here. Thanks for opening up the discussion.

  42. PrincipalA

    I am writing from a principal perspective. When I started at my last school (where I was the assistant principal prior to becoming principal), the current P allowed parent requests and had done so for the 15 years prior. I remember one of the biggest concerns of the staff (during my interview process) was whether or not I would continue this practice. They had very valid concerns as in some grade levels, it had become a major issue, pitting 3 teachers against the 4th on the team. He was a very, very charismatic and outgoing former NFL and collegiate football player. Not only did every kid want him but every parent wanted their kid in his class. I remember that last year when there were TWENTY parent requests for a class of 25 kids. And as someone mentioned above, you can bet these were the kids whose parents were the most involved in the school. The thing is, while he was very weak at his curriculum knowledge he was great with any type of child. Difficult students especially…or second language learners. He was like the Pied Piper. But when you have only 5 spots left to place kids….well you see the dilemma. Then you have 3 other teachers upset that no one requested them (that information was shared with the previous year’s teachers when they were making class lists).

    Sooooo….I ended parent requests. Much to my surprise, there wasn’t a ton of parent pushback and the staff was extremely happy. I did implement the ‘feedback sheet’ with some pretty detailed questions about the type of teacher they thought their child would be best with, etc. If a parent wanted to fill one out, they had to pick them up in the office or ask us to email. Of course I still had parents who put names on that feedback sheet… But I told the teachers who were making the lists that I trusted them to make the best placements for ALL kids (we had to do the same balanced classes as described above) and if that’s who they would have placed that child with, then go ahead.

    I did have a parent choice of ‘opting out’ of a class but they had to explain why in writing. 99% of the time it was because of a bad experience with an older sibling. My thoughts were ‘why torture a teacher and parent if I already know there is some type of bad juju between them?’ They could only opt out of one…not 3 to get the teacher they wanted!! Lol. And like I said, it had to be for a really good reason.

    Lastly, our district had a process for changing classrooms after school started in the fall but it was so time consuming that the student usually liked their teacher by the time it was done. That was at the district level and it was really rare… I had maybe 3 in 20+ years.

  43. Kelly

    The principal at the school where I have 2 children actually takes specific teacher requests from all the staff at the school, members of the PTA board,as well as teachers at other schools that have children at our school. As you can imagine the “star” teachers are always packed with these children. There is a group of 8 boys, all sons of teachers and PTA, who have been in the same class kindergarten through 5th grade. I volunteer at the school 2 hours a week and at every special event. My daughter has an IEP due to autism, but has never been placed with these “star” teachers even when a request had been made. Just this week a new student came to the school with the condition of severe anxiety. She was placed in the strictest teachers class because the teacher she should have been placed with was over the maximum allowed because of all teachers’ kids the principal placed in that teacher’s class. The parent met with the principal, but ended up pulling this little girl out of the school to be home schooled. Essentially, the situation is that the kids who need the skills of the best teachers with the teaching styles that match their needs are being taken by the “friends” of the principal – I believe this is a disgrace!

    • Anonymous Teacher

      Amen. May I ask what state this is? It sounds so much like “my” school I could bet money on it! However, there are many schools like this is the US. Sadly, kids are not really the most important reason for the placements at most schools. It’s all about what the principal thinks and if you ever make a principal mad at you for speaking out, watch out! Because, some hold grudges when you disagree with them and you will pay the piper until you retire.

  44. Tracey

    I feel for you. And as a former principal, this is another reason why I liked putting the student placements into the hands of the prior year’s teachers. Not only were they aware of the needs of their students and the best match of the teacher for the following year, it also got ME out of the loop of ‘favoritism’ of placements. I can honestly say that I had a mostly professional staff when it came to truly placing kids based on needs. I’m sure there were some back-door deals with parents who really wanted their child with a specific teacher the following year (I know lots of teachers developed close and personal relationships with families of multiple children) but I also know the class placements were made as a ‘team’ of teachers. And the individual teacher had to be able to justify to her/his teammates why this child would be best placed in that specific classroom.

    All in all I believe it worked out for the most part but the bottom line (and one that I held fast to) is that it had to be the best match for the CHILD. We were there for the child. Sometimes it was really hard not to burn out the really, really good teachers year after year because often those with the best skills are the ones who we would love the place the most difficult students with. Or the ones with the most needs. But I can tell you the gems in my school could handle any child and each year were up for the challenge of a new class…said, ‘bring them on’ no matter who was in it. Boy, did I love those teachers!! Good luck to you and your precious daughter!

  45. Jan

    Our school honors parent request and I prefer it for the most part. I teach middle school and it cuts down on tension later on. If a parent doesn’t want me as a teacher for whatever reason, I’m okay with that and it reduces conflict over the child.

    What gets under my skin are honoring student requests mid-year. While some requests are valid, we are getting a number of them which are nothing more than the child’s manipulation of the system to be in a class with friends. When such requests are granted, students feel empowered and tend to become academic and behavior problems.

  46. Mealsa

    Unless a parent has spent time in a teacher’s classroom, they have no idea what kind of a teacher he/she is. None. Their opinion is build on gossip from others, usually from people who have also not spent time in that teacher’s classroom. The same can be said for listening to the opinion of another teacher. Most teachers are never in another teacher’s classroom. Their “opinion” would also be gossip. And going off of what a child says can be misleading as well. I had a parent come in one day and take their child out of my class because he had all of a sudden stopped wanting to go to school. Had never talked to me about it and the child had said nothing either. Come to find out, he had stayed in at recess to finish work that he had it done in class because he was playing, and was mad. So he threw fits when he had to come to school. He was put in another class and…. The same thing happened. For the next two years he threw fits when he had to go to school. Finally they moved. Do a child’s complaints are not always valid. Especially when the are spoiled. Why do parents feel like they need to coddle their kids? Done times you have to do things you don’t want to. Sometimes you have a boss you don’t like or a peer. That’s life.

  47. Jennifer

    This is a tricky debate. Where do the parents learn about the qualities of particular teachers? Most likely on the sports fields. I have had parents specifically request their child NOT be in my class, not because I had a sibling, not because I had any prior intereaction with the family of the child, simply because they heard I was tough. I am tough. I hold children accountable for proper behavior and hold them to a high standard of work completion and effort. As it turned out, those children who were placed in my room despite the concerns from the parents, had the best year ever. The parents were kind enough to tell me so! It is not fair to single out particular teachers, but it is important for parents to have a voice in what style or teaching environment their child gets placed in. However, if they make their decisions solely based on the “soccer field” gossip, they can be sorely misguided and deny a child the potential for an outstanding learning year.

  48. Brandi

    I am a teacher where my child goes to school. Even though I may have preferences as to who my child’s teacher is, I don’t request. I have to trust that she is put in the best placement, based on personalities and ability. The grade level teachers plan together so the content is the same, presentation may slightly differ. I stay involved and fill in any gaps at home. You can’t expect the teacher to know the ins and outs of all thier students. They do their best, but you as a parent have to be the biggest advocate for your child.

  49. Jenny

    My school honors parent request. The problem that arises is one teacher has been teaching 20+ years and everyone wants her. She then is given a class full of students whose parents are involved and students who are well behaved. The other two teachers get all the behavior and students with special needs. It’s starting to becoming very frustrating.

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