Grading the Teacher

Turning the Tables:

Nellie Jacobs wants kids to evaluate teachers

Grading the Teacher-original

Growing up, Nellie Jacobs attended no less than 13 different schools in Toronto as her family criss-crossed the city time and time again. That didn’t make for an easy childhood, but it did give her the impetus to help schoolchildren today.

Jacobs … always the new kid in class, says she was profoundly affected by her teachers. Her experiences eventually gave her the idea for her first book Grading the Teacher, A Parents’ Guide.

Jacobs spent four years researching and writing this work, which is now being used by schools, as well as parents. “Basically, I urge parents to recognize that teachers can inspire their children, or they can actually turn them off learning,” she says. “As a result, I ask parents to be their kids’ advocate, and represent them as best they can.”

Her practical easy-to-read guide explains what makes a good or bad teacher and school, and how to look after your child’s best interests. It provides a report card for     children, and their parents, to fill out on their teachers, which also helps kids bring issues to light. “Top marks go to those instructors who make a child feel safe to make mistakes, safe to learn,” says Jacobs.

A former teacher herself, she left the profession before maternity leave was instituted to have the first of four children. In 1975, Jacobs started a mothers and babies group which spawned MAMMA, a newsletter that blossomed into seminars, conventions, skits, and a weekly cable show. MAMMA operated for five years.

Excerpt from York University Profiles Magazine
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Parent/Educator Testimonials

♦ “What I need to do, and again I invite you to do the same, is to examine my teaching from the framework of perspectives described by Nellie Jacobs in her book Grading the Teacher.” Adam Simpson. Sabancı University, Istanbul/Turkey. (Award winning teacher and blogger featured GTT at FLT plenary at Uludağ University in Bursa, Turkey April 24, 2014.)  

♦ “I ordered your book a few weeks ago. I have read it and loved it. I loved the way you were able to support both students and teachers. …The more we work on this the more we realized what an excellent tool your questionnaire is.” L. G., Norwell, MA, U.S.A.

♦ “… an exceptional resource!” Dr. Jean M. McGuire, Executive Director Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, Inc., (METCO), Boston, MA

♦ “Your evaluation … is a wonderful method of getting student feedback, and, quite frankly, the best method we have seen.” J. N., Hanover, MA, U.S.A.

♦ “Read your book with great interest, and have used it …to support my arguments not only to BCCPAC but also to the press and to the local school board and others. … I do sense a growing concern to evaluate teachers as one of the best means of improving public education …keep up the good work.” Peter Buitenhuis, former chair, English Department, Simon Fraser University, vice-president, DCPAC, West Vancouver, B.C.

♦  “Formerly, I was a Special education teacher, Guidance Counsellor and Chair, Student Services and Special Programs. Over the years, I have recommended Nellie Jacobs’ Grading the Teacher for several reasons.

“Nellie provides the parent advocate with essential tools that lead to greater student success. Her comments on recognizing good teaching and understanding teachers provide helpful benchmarks for both teachers and parents.

“Student success results when there is a partnership between parents and teachers; Grading the Teacher provides parents with tools to enhance such a partnership. Particularly useful is the chapter, “Understanding Teachers”. The parent who is able to be objective about a teacher’s performance will be more effective in bringing about a desired change.

   ” Grading the Teacher is a useful tool not only to parents, but to teachers as well.” Judy Winberg, Education Consultant in private practice, Toronto, Canada

♦ “I must say it provides some clarity and objectivity and insight into what is often emotional, subjective and incomplete analysis from a parent’s or student’s perspective and I should add the school system …I am writing to make you aware that someone has appreciated your book. …Thank you for the commitment to writing this book.” B. R., Ontario, Canada

♦ “I obtained a copy of your book Grading the Teacher through OISE [Ontario Institute for Studies in Education] as my husband and I were searching for a way to deal with a very difficult Grade 5 Teacher. We found your report card to be clear and easy to fill out. It also gave us an objective means of evaluating this teacher rather than just saying “Our kid can’t stand her and neither can we.” As a result, we are making some progress with how the Principal is dealing with her.”
S. W., Toronto, Canada

♦ “I am extremely impressed .. Teachers and well as others, particularly parents have much to gain from what is written.” Dr. Lois Harrison-Jones. Former: Superintendent of Schools in Richmond, VA and in Boston, MA; Associate Clinical Professor of Howard University School of Education; Educational Consultant of Harcourt-Brace School Publishers; President of National Alliance of Black School Educators


♦ “Your presentation was attention-grabbing. Your humor terrific!
A very constructive, refreshing, inspirational motivation presentation. ”
F.R., attendee, BCCPAC Leadership Conference, Vancouver, BC. Canada

♦ “Nellie Jacobs was the plenary speaker. She spent four years writing a book called Grading the Teacher. Handy little book too … Lots of practical advice on making mass schooling not seem so massive. …She also touched on the theme that came back again and again throughout the three day conference. She said parents must move from an advisory role to a decision-making role. Amen sister! ”
The Parent Network Newsletter


“For parents who want advice on how to become involved in their child’s schooling, this …can open the door …A valuable tool in the hands of educators who want to do some self study.” Beverly Brenna, The StarPhoenix

♦ “Jacobs consciously pursues a fair, balanced approach …greatest appeal may be to administrators.” Marsha Heron, Quill and Quire

♦ “A fresh angle to something that’s taxing the minds of talk radio hosts everywhere.”  Lisa Brandt, Entertainment Editor, CHML 900

♦ “Former …school teacher Nellie Jacobs, a mother or four, examines the profound effect teachers can have on children.. The book offers common-sense advice for evaluating teachers – and what to do when they don’t measure up.” Featured book, bestseller list, Maclean’s magazine

♦ “Nellie Jacobs …instructs parents how to become more involved in their child’s education. … Throughout the book Jacobs describes the roles and responsibilities of teachers, principals and bureaucrats, but also insists that students and parents assume their share of responsibility in the educational partnership …Grading the Teacher is a valuable handbook for parents, teachers and administrators alike.” Sheri Henderson, “CEE Best in Print” Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation

♦ “Over four years of research, she questioned educators at all levels of the system, collected horror stories from teachers and parents alike.” Ellie Tesher, The Toronto Star

♦ “This is a plain-talking book …Jacobs tells parents how to get involved with their children’s school affairs without going overboard.” Susan Schwartz, The Gazette, Montreal

♦ “At the heart of Grading the Teacher is a catalogue of the attributes Jacobs says make a good teacher. She reduces this material to a simple, bulleted report card that parents can use to grade a teacher’s performance.” Winnipeg Free Press

♦ “Her practical easy-to-read guide explains … how to look after your child’s best interests.” Profiles, York University Magazine

♦ “Get Jacobs going on how teachers can improve and she’s hard-pressed to stop.” Marilyn Linton, Lifestyle Editor, Toronto Sun