How to change teachers in public middle school

Hi, all.  I need some advice about how to navigate the public school infrastructure to help my daughter.  In short, she needs to move to a different class and I'm hoping someone can offer suggestions for how to best approach this issue.

My daughter is attending a public middle school for the first time after previously attending a private school.  Overall, the experience has been great for her!  However, she's got one teacher who has not worked out so far.  My wife and I have met with the principal on two different occasions about 3-months apart.  The first meeting happened after just about a week into the school year, when we got the sense that there was going to be a problem.  (And by problem, I mean that the teacher is not equipped to handle middle school kids.  She's just moved from teaching young kids in early elementary school.  When she recommended that the middle school class read "chapter books" we got the sense that something might be off.  That was just a very mild example.)  The principal acknowledged that the teacher was on their radar.  At the first meeting, the principal indicated that they were going to monitor this teacher's class, provide guidance, and generally work with the teacher to try to improve things.  Three months later, nothing has changed, and the principal is giving us the exact same answer with no real plan to help my daughter.  They're only focused on making this teacher a better teacher, which will probably take a few years, and this process comes at the expense of my daughter's education.

This teacher is the only one at this grade level having this issue.  Since my child came into the school somewhat advanced, she's been coasting and really not learning anything.  The teacher is struggling to address the average student, and seems to be trying to help the struggling students, but is leaving the kids who are a little ahead to their own devices.  By the time my daughter starts next year, she'll have basically wasted this year without being challenged unless we do something.  My wife and I were hoping the principal would help us work towards switching my daughter to a teacher with a little more experience who would have the capacity to challenge the more advanced kids.  However, it seems the principal is concerned that moving my daughter might trigger an avalanche.

Since the principal basically gave us no alternatives, it feels like our hands are tied.  Anyone know the workings of the school system well enough to suggest how we might try to escalate this request to move my daughter?  It seems like aiming for the start of next semester would be an ideal time to make a move.  We have to act now if we're going to make that happen.  I really appreciate any suggestions!

(I've attempted to write this post so that the teacher and school could not be easily identified.  I'm not trying to shame the teacher...just want the best outcome for my daughter.  That's also why I chose to hide my username...Thanks!)

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One teacher and everything else is good? Then just supplement outside of school. At 6th/7th grade, you will not be sacrificing "at the expense of my daughter's education," all the academics of middle school will be reviewed/repeated later. The social and community aspects are actually more important at this age. If you think of public school being for the greater good of the community (which I truly believe), then work with the teacher to help her become a better teacher rather than making it all about you.

If she's at a BUSD middle school, your best bet is to work with the grade-level counselor. Our daughter had some issues with teachers and the counselor was very helpful.

Just one teacher who is not actively bad in a day with multiple teachers? Let it go. You run the risk of communicating to your daughter that she is a special snowflake and mommy and daddy will always fix her "problems". Being slightly advanced is not a problem; challenge her to go above and beyond in the subject independently.

I suggest dropping the issue.  If I recall correctly, middle school was boring, and the "more advanced" kids spent a lot of time "coasting" while the teachers did the best they could with big classes of diverse skill levels.   That was my experience, at least, and I turned out OK.   I would recommend letting your child "coast" a little bit instead of being a thorn in the side of the principal and this teacher, who sounds like she is doing the best she can with what she's got.  Don't look at it as "wasting" a year - she is surely learning many new things, including valuable social skills, being in a new and more diverse school.

Just to offer a different perspective— this may be a time for your daughter to learn life skills other than reading.  Such as accepting things we cannot change, challenging oneself by creating extra-curricular activities and studies, patience, compassion for her teacher, the satisfaction of offering to help others (like the kids in the class who are struggling), and/or finding ways to manage frustration. 

I don't have advice on how to make the school change her teacher, but do have an alternate suggestion. You say your daughter is advanced and not being challenged. So the long-term consequences of a dud teacher in one subject are minimal. It's not that she's going to struggle forever with a weak foundation in that subject, it's just that she'll be bored this year. In public or private school over the next 7-11 years of middle school, high school, and college she's going to have some great teachers and some stinkers. For the rest of her life, she'll have some co-workers and bosses that are awesome and some that are useless. It's not too early for her to learn to deal with a dud. It's a life skill she'll need. And you can model for her that you win some and you lose some, and sometimes you have to make the best of what you've got.

I only see two possibilities here: while trying to support all kids, focus on the ones needing the most help; or, helping the ones that are doing great and leave the other ones to fail.  Which one do you think should be the one the teacher should go for?  

If she made the right choice, in my opinion, maybe your other options would be to add extracurricular activities for your daughter; or tutor your daughter yourself a little.  Give her challenging activities, or help add some challenge to her school work.

Another possibility: move to an area where kids have so much support at home that kids are all 'brilliant'.  Another option: move your daughter to a demanding private school.  And, no matter what, it's great your daughter is so advanced that she does not have the challenges the other kids have.  Congratulations on that.

In any case, I hope things work out for everyone, mainly those who need the help the most.  

Please check out a really awesome article on parent-teacher problem solving:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/well/family/5-lessons-from-a-diplomat...

I wanted to respond to your post with a different perspective.  I am a public high school teacher and a mom of a kid in public school.  I think you are finding that public schools are not based on a consumer model, which is why getting the principal to respond to your preference for a teacher has proven difficult.  The beauty of this model is that it is there to serve the public equitably, although it does not always do this perfectly or seamlessly.

While it seems unfortunate that your daughter got this teacher while she is still so new to this level, one challenge of middle school and high school is that students will sometimes receive teachers they don't feel challenged by or don't mesh with for other reasons.  Part of developing into a resilient student is learning to deal with those challenges.  As for academics, if you daughter is not struggling academically, it seems like she is at a great age to challenge herself.  If an assignment is too easy for her, maybe you can brainstorm with her how to go above and beyond, or add another level of nuance or thoughtfulness to her work.  Or even work on reading above grade level books for fun that she enjoys and also challenge her - which will certainly facilitate her growth and literacy. Or, instead of finding challenge or interest in this particular class, maybe throw herself into the challenge of another class that she finds interesting, 

You just came out of six years of private school. Your daughter has six teachers now (presumably) and only one is not good? I think those are really good odds. Maybe this is the better learning experience for your daughter--that she can be successful, happy, resilient, in a less than perfect environment.  And sad to say, but not all middle schoolers, especially 6th graders, are reading chapter books. So maybe the teacher wasn't out of line in suggesting this. I totally get where your principal is coming from. Everyone knows this is not a strong teacher. But there is a teacher shortage right now, and better to have a teacher in the class than no one (and yes, this happens). As far as changing teachers, is there room for everyone to change? No, of course not. So who gets to? Probably no one, unless it's for very compelling reasons.  Your daughter will survive. She might learn she doesn't actually need the best in order to thrive. Most kids don't.

I remember being in a very similar situation with being bored in class and teacher that was too busy to help a kid that was already advanced. She kept telling me to walk around and help other kids, which I was fine doing for a bit but I did not want to spend the whole period being teacher's helper and learning nothing new.   My parents lost the battle of changing me to another class with a teacher who had a group of advanced kids in class and was helping them with different assignments since they wanted academic diversity and wanted each class to have kids who were advanced and who were struggling.  The compromise my parents reached with the teacher after a lot of back and forth was that my parents would provide enrichment resources (books, workbooks, worksheets) for me to work on in class after I complete class work.  So I would still do the assigned work in class (usually very quickly while the teacher was explaining the worksheets) and then work on my own books/worksheets afterwards.  My parents checked it and bought all the additional resources, so I know it took time/money but I was self motivated to do self study and it worked well.  My parents had the same concern about me wasting a year, and this way I ended up learning more in this class doing self study then I did in many of my other classes.  If your kid is motivated and is willing to do self study and you are willing to arrange it and provide the resources, it was a great solution for all.  So even if you cannot change teachers, maybe there is another solution that would work.  Good luck. 

I don't have any advice, but I did want to convey empathy. I understand the resource constraints and the difficult choices that underfunded schools need to make. But I also believe that every child matters, every child deserves to be challenged, and that the solution is not for advanced students to have to spend their free time doing additional academics that they missed receiving in school. Nor for parents of advanced students to have to spend their time and resources on supplementation.

In a similar situation and struggling.