A Note From The Teacher
by Jennifer Cummings, M.Ed.

teacher and students

When Your Child’s Teacher Leaves Mid-Year

Once upon a time, teachers were considered to be different than average people, set apart from most other professions. Even today, children can be surprised to see their favorite educator in the local grocery store or mall. But as we all know, teachers are the same as other dedicated and caring professionals that work in a variety of fields.

Just as ‘regular’ workers can leave their positions, teachers, too, may need to leave their positions before the end of the school year. Whether for personal or professional reasons, there are so sometimes when a teacher must step away from their classroom either temporarily or permanently before the end of the year. At these times, parents and students alike may become anxious and concerned about the future.

Though it may be scary for children to think about their favorite teacher leaving the classroom after part of the year, adapting to this kind of change can prove to be healthy for a student. Each time a student works with a new individual it allows them to learn social skills which will allow them to be flexible and work with others. They learn how to understand different expectations and meet new challenges successfully.

For parents i,t can be hard to accept that a new person will teach and look after their child every day. There is a certain amount of comfort when parents have met and worked with the person who is working with their child on a regular basis. Sometimes it is also more difficult for parents to accept changing expectations of a new teacher than it is for students. But parents should keep an open mind and can help their students make the best of the situation by:

1. Maintain a positive attitude. As a parent, even if you have doubts about the new person’s teaching skills, handle it professionally with the teacher, not in front of your child. Make positive statements about the change and make suggestions on how to have your child ask questions and talk to the new teacher. If you have questions about new policies or plans, ask the teacher.

2. Meet the new person. Work to make an appointment to meet the new person. You will feel better being able to put a name to a face when your child talks about school.

3. Do not hover in the classroom. Taking over a classroom in the middle of a year is a huge adjustment for a teacher, too, regardless of how many years they have taught. By constantly trying to be in the classroom to watch him or her teach, you are putting extra pressure into the situation and could be disrupting more than you are helping.

4. Watch out for soccer field politics. Too often large groups of parents (some of whom may not be directly involved with the situation) share their ideas and opinions about staff without direct knowledge of the person. Try to stay out of these conversations and rely on your own experiences with the person in the classroom. Have concerns? Address them with the teacher, not the sports team.

Yes, significant staffing changes can disrupt both parents’ and students’ lives in the middle of the school year, but it is important to realize that teachers often do everything they can to complete the school year with the same class. Also, administrators and officials do the best they can to find a suitable replacement for the classroom. With a little cooperation and communication between home and school, you can help your child’s unexpected transition be a positive one instead of a frightening one.

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Jennifer Cummings

Ms. Cummings, author, and editor of the Education and School Section, she has a B.A.in psychology and an M.Ed. in special education from Framingham State College in Massachusetts. She was an elementary teacher in Massachusetts serving both regular education and special education students. She has taught grades 1,4, and 5.

"I believe that families' involvement in their child's education is one of the key ingredients to creating a successful school experience for children. Keeping parents informed about school-related issues helps parents and teachers work together for the best possible outcomes for their children. Learning together makes learning fun - for everyone!" - Jennifer Cummings.

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