Teacher Assignments, a.k.a. Kindergarten Bid Day

Many an anxious mom is waiting for the postal carrier to deliver the letter that will determine their child’s lifelong fate. These moms have already projected how the right kindergarten teacher will either scar a child forever or assure a good foundation in math, hence good grades, hence acceptance into medical school, hence financial independence from mom and dad. At least, that’s the impression you get when you talk with these moms who are on the phone, texting updates, and generally wringing their hands over potential teacher assignments.

If you were thinking you had already assured yourself of a good school system – your mortgage payment reminds you regularly – these moms will give you a whole new set of worries. There’s always a talkative mom who offers to fill you in on each teacher’s reputation along with a few anecdotes of a neighbor or friend-of-a-friend who had a child in her class. And if you have a child beginning any program, from daycare to high school, then you in particular are fresh meat.

There are parents who love living this self-imposed lottery mentality as they call around and compare notes, deducing who must be in a particular class based on all the known assignments. TMZ couldn’t keep up with all the teacher updates and speculation.

What I’ve always wondered is, So What? What are you going to do about a teacher assignment? Most schools are adamant that assignments are made based on fit and availability. Scream all you want, but as a rule there will be no reassignments unless experience proves the teacher/student situation is disastrous. Any administrator will ask that you try an arrangement for six weeks, and isn’t that reasonable? (A conspiracy-theorist friend points out that at this point the kid will have made friends and won’t want to make a change, and then what? To which I think, isn’t that a good sign?)

Don’t be convinced that the teaching relationship is doomed before it’s even begun, or that kids who don’t have a friend in class on the first day are doomed to a solitary school year. I have done this rodeo enough to know that some moms just love the drama. In actual fact, the kids adapt to the expectations of the classroom and teachers don’t always behave according to their reputations, good or bad. The classroom dynamic is a huge unknown that can make all the difference.

As well as I may think I know my children, I’ve discovered that there are other sides to their personalities that emerge at school, and that is healthy. There is something to be said for adjusting to different personalities and teaching styles. In general, it’s the teacher’s job to flex to the needs of the students.

Notice what happens when you do get the teacher that is less enthusiastically recommended. The outspoken moms begin to equivocate, “Well, so-and-so had that teacher, and their kid loved her, so it will probably be just fine.”

Yes, it probably will.