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Teaching Strategies to Deal with Switching Teacher Requests

Janelle Cox

At some point in your teaching career, you may have to deal with a parent or two who wants their child to switch teachers. While this is probably going to feel like a huge blow to your ego, you must know that this is something every educator will most likely face at some point or another. The reasoning can vary from a parent not liking your teaching strategies or style to a personality conflict. Whatever the reasoning may be, it still doesn’t feel good.

Here are five smart teaching strategies to help you handle this sticky situation. 

1. Teaching Strategies: “It’s Not You, It’s Them”

Think about your teaching and think about what the “Real” reason the parent is asking for a transfer is. Do they have a legitimate reason for wanting another teacher? Sometimes a small personality conflict can be just the thing that makes a parent want to change teachers. Other times, a child complains about the teacher to their parents so much (because they are misbehaving and getting into trouble) that the parent has had enough, and thinks a new teacher can handle their child better. Take some time to consider the parents’ criticism, but try to disregard the other stuff. Sometimes, it’s not you, it’s them.

2. Try Not to Be So Defensive

Don’t automatically go on the defense, take a moment and try and sort out why the parents are asking to switch teachers. Your knee-jerk reaction may be to call the parents and try and persuade them to stay, but sometimes this can make things worse, not to mention extremely uncomfortable. Just try and move on, you have about 20 other students who need your full attention.

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3. Agree to Disagree

The parent is asking to switch teachers because they truly believe that it is in the best interest of their child. You are not the student’s parent and do not know what is best for them even though you may think you do. It’s easier to accept when you just agree to disagree. You may never really understand the real reasoning for the parents wanting to switch teachers, so just tell yourself that the parent knows their child the best, and all they are doing is advocating for them. You can’t get upset for knowing that a parent will do anything that is in the best interest of their child.

4. Let it Go

Just as Elsa sang in the Disney classic movie “Frozen,” “Let it go.” When something like this happens you replay it over and over in your head because your brain is trying to figure out what went wrong. While this is completely normal, it is not healthy. Tell yourself you must let it go and move forward. Don’t spend your days discussing and dissecting what could have gone wrong. Make the consensus choice to move on.

5. Focus on the Good

Don’t let one parent’s criticisms ruin your school year. Think about all of the love and support that you have from the 20-something other students in your classroom. Just because one student asked to switch teachers doesn’t mean that the other 20 are going to. Reflect on what may have gone wrong and think about how you can change that. But once you have done that, let it go. Think about all of the things that are going right in your classroom, and focus your attention on that. Don’t lose sight of what you are there to do, and that is teach and support your students.

You must accept the fact that not every parent is always going to like you. You can be the kindest, most generous, hardworking teacher on the planet and there will still be a parent who does not like you. Instead of taking this to heart, just learn to accept it. Always be yourself, and know that you are doing your best and that should be enough for you.

Has this ever happened to you in your classroom? If so, how did you handle this situation? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear the strategies that you used to get through this tough time.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.