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An inch of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Today more than ever our students need skills to control impulses, problem solve, manage stress, and effectively deal with emotions.  The overworked parents, instant and scary world of technology, and expectations on our kids to grow up too fast brings about extra pressure.  Year after year I wonder who is going to teach these skills to kids before they get into trouble-before it's too late.   Sadly, we're in a system that doesn't provide help until it is too late.

Why should it be our job as a school system to teach students these non-academic skills?  Newtown comes to mind as does the simple fact that students ability to learn is deminished if they have uncontrolled emotions.  As SLP's I find that we can be a valuable resource to build awareness around this topic and teach strategies to students.

Parent choice?

My kids are anxiously awaiting their report cards to see who their new teachers will be.  I work at a school which doesn't allow parents to choose teachers and my own children attend a school where parents have the last vote as to which class their child is in.

The teachers take roster building very seriously at my pubic school of employment.  A large team of counselors, classroom teachers, and specialists spend hours grouping students according to gender, friendships, learning style, educational need, etc.  Administration oversees the process and gives the final roster approval.  Parents are able to complete an input form with the above stated information but are asked not to make teachers-specific recommendations.

My children attend a public school which allows for parents to choose teachers.  The classroom teachers also meet with the specialists/counselors to make placement decisions but the parents' choice is the final placement decision.   I learned this first hand because I have a second grader with attentional issues who has had a very tough last two years of school.  I wrote a letter to her current teacher and the principal with educationally relevant information and made my first teacher request.

The team did not agree with my choice of teacher for my child.  They asked to meet with me and explained why my choice was not their choice.  They clearly articulated my child's strengths and weaknesses and asked me to reconsider my request.  I believe that the team had my child's best interest at heart and was able to be open-minded, revoke my placement request, and trust their opinion. 

I feel fortunate that the small schools in my area usually know the students well and have the best interest of each child in mind when building rosters.  Unfortunately, I know that this is not the case in all districts.

Personally, I worry about a system that trusts parent requests as the final decision.  Many of my students with special needs come from poverty and homes in which the parents are not involved in their child's education.  Most likely the teachers being requested are more hand-on/visual teachers which, as we know, our students with learning challenges need the most.

So while my first and third grader wait for the mailman, I'll wait to hear your opinions on this topic.