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Choosing a Good School

Education Expert Advice from Barbara Callaghan

Q: Hi! Maybe I am not looking in the right category. Could you please see if FEN has any information on qualities to look for in a good teacher/curriculum? I have a 6 yr. old boy who will be in 1st grade next year, probably in public school. We are in the process of discussing teacher selection with the school principal. Any hints?

A: This is the time of year that class placement is being made for l998-99 and this question may be on the mind of many parents. Parents are generally not allowed to specifically request a particular teacher, as you can imagine the logistical nightmare of 200 parents all wanting the same person.

The most common scenario is for a principal to work with the teachers and guidance counselors to create classrooms that are balanced in all ways, including boys/girls, slow/fast learners, special needs, and so on.

In which type of learning environment does your child excel? Sharing this information with your child's school can help him adjust in those first days. For instance, does your child stay on task, or does he need strong guidelines? Does he tend to make friends easily, or is he withdrawn?

Above all, be careful about listening to gossip about a particular teacher. Your child's learning needs should be what matter, not what a neighbor has to say about a teacher with a strict reputation.

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After teaching in California for nearly ten years, Barbara Callaghan moved to New Hampshire in 1985 and became a principal. After 10 years as a principal, she returned to teaching, her first love and true vocation.

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