Teachers: To request or not to request

Laura K. Silver is a trustee of the Jewish Light who writes a blog for the paper’s website (stljewishlight.com/laura).  She owns The Paper Trail of St. Louis, a financial and legal concierge service. Laura is married and the mother of two middle school age children.

By Laura K. Silver

There is always a lot of excitement this time of year, especially when it comes to finding out your child’s teacher and classmates. A few years ago, I had a conversation with one of my friends about whether or not I had requested a teacher.  I told her that I had requested a style of teacher, but not a specific teacher.  It led to a discussion about life skills that has stayed with me to this day.

I told my friend that I felt my kids would benefit from a certain type of classroom. My children didn’t require the same type of classroom as each other, but I wanted teachers for them who ran their class a certain way and friends for them in their classrooms. 

“But,” my friend retorted, “Are you giving them the life skills to deal when things don’t go their way?  Wouldn’t they benefit from learning to navigate a system that’s different?”

I have to say that, up until that point, the thought had not occurred to me.  As the years have passed, I’ve considered what she said and I agree.  One of my most important jobs is to prepare my children for life.  If my daughter has a boss who isn’t her speed, am I going to request a change?  If my son works in a department and all of his friends are assigned to a different department, am I going to ask for a transfer?  

We’ve heard more and more about principals and teachers being frustrated with parents who try to pave the path for their children.  We hear about parents questioning grades and negotiating arrangements for their children.  Who can blame teachers for burning out?  And is this really what is best for our kids? 


Last week, we received our assignments for teachers this year.  My son ended up with the teacher he wanted.  She gives a lot of homework and he is happy about that–I’m not going to question this one.  I’m going with it. 

My daughter is assigned to a teacher she doesn’t really know and most of her close friends are not in her class.  I have enough confidence in our school to know that she will be fine academically.   Regarding the friends, my daughter and I discussed it.  We talked about how most of their social time is at PE, recess and lunch, where all of the kids are together.   It gives her an opportunity in the classroom to branch out and possibly make some new friends. 

“Right,” she said after considering it, “I guess it really doesn’t matter that much.” 

“Right, sometimes classes just work out this way.  That’s life,” I told her.

She’s prepared.