Why You Need To Know Your Child's Teacher

As illustrated by a recent study, teachers not only play a huge role in the development of our children, they can have a lasting impact on them for the rest of their lives. Yet how many parents truly get to know their child's teachers? If their impact is as far-reaching as the study suggests, then getting to know your child's teacher could be crucial.

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The Importance of Teacher Quality

Conducted by professors from Harvard and Columbia University, the recently-published paper, The Long Term Impact of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood shows the immediate impact value-added teachers have on test scores.

Subsequently, students with higher test scores have more of a tendency to go to college, find better jobs and earn more money. Thus, the study concludes, having a better teacher can have a positive effect on a student over the course of his or her lifetime.

While of course other variables will come into play, such as value-added ratings that differ from one school to another, some generally point to the study as supporting the belief that teacher quality is of utmost importance...perhaps more than originally believed.

Ineffective Teaching Has Impact, Too

Consider this: when compared to students who have high-quality teachers, those with just average teachers are not all that different; however, the gap between those with average and those with poor teachers is the same as those between excellent and average teachers.

Some see this difference as significant, and over time it well could be. Just replacing a low-quality teacher with an average one could mean a difference of $266,000 in earnings over a student's lifetime!

As Professor James Strong of the College of William and Mary stated in an article by the Small Newspaper Group in 2005, bad teaching has a 'cumulative effect'. In other words, if a student in first grade has a bad teacher and falls behind, he or she will struggle in second grade and so on.

'The quality of the teacher in the classroom is the most important factor that a school district can control,' Strong said. 'It's more important than class size or school facilities or even course offering.'

Get to Know Your Child's Teacher

So, can parents help? It's possible they can. Educators have long advocated for parents to become involved in their child's education, and this could start by getting to know your child's teacher.

Work closely with them. Keep the lines of communication open. Schedule regular meetings, if possible. Ask your child about his or her class experiences, and specifically how the teacher responds to certain situations.

Get a feel for the example the teacher is showing your child, and a feel for whether your child has an average or above-average teacher. It might be possible that increased parental involvement could help to make teachers better at what they do.

A recent article in TIME Magazine, which suggests that parents should be able to choose teachers, states that parents should observe teachers giving lessons, maybe even before their child has been assigned to that classroom.

And if ultimately you're not happy with your child's assigned teacher? You could request a change. Some schools might not be as receptive to this as others, but when it comes to an influence that will affect the rest of your child's life, it certainly would be worth a try.

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

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