I remember the “What on Earth are they talking about???” moment when we chatted with our neighbor who has school-age children. She casually mentioned that she doesn’t like the new teacher their second-grader got. I asked what happened to the previous teacher. Mom looked at me as if I just came from an outer space and said, Well, you know, they get a new teacher every year!
This came as a rude wake-up call to both me and my husband. Both in Germany and in the former Soviet Union the system was quite different. As a rule, all teachers taught more than just one year and moved along with the students for 3 or 4 years before transitioning them to the next teacher. One of the teachers was assigned as a “class teacher” who was leading all extra-curricular activities and was leading parent-teacher conferences for this class.
As a student, I found the whole transitioning process a bit difficult, since I had to reestablish the relationship and get to know this new teacher’s quirks. Now I can see my daughter struggling with the same issue while moving from her “Green Frogs” teachers to the new Pre-K classroom in her preschool and having a completely new set of teachers. To add insult to injury, the kids got reshuffled too “to promote group dynamics”. And as an outsider to this system I am completely flabbergasted. So many efforts and so much money is spent on figuring out the way to improve scores and promote learning and nobody is willing to admit that children, especially young children, get attached to their teachers and need a bit more stability in their learning process? Or is there a powerful lobby of teacher unions behind this rigid system? I can see that it’s probably easier to feed the same content year over year than to be prepared to teach a different level. I also think that American grade system protects bad teachers from scrutiny – they can always claim that a particular child is difficult or that he/she didn’t learn something in the previous year that he/she should have learned. And I feel sorry for good teachers who have to correct the mistakes of the past in a very short window given to them before the next big test.
I am curious to hear your points of view. Do you think it’s good or bad to have a new teacher every year? If you are/were a teacher, can you explain me the reasons behind this model? I admit that I am now more motivated to at least look into private schools who use European principles of keeping the same teachers for several years before I plunge my daughter into a public school whirlpool.