Time in the water is more important than having a teacher, in most cases. Most surfers are no good at teaching anyways. I think that is why it is better to stick with a local surf school if you really have to have lessons.
Agree. Nothing like just being out there. Make sure you are learning on a board that is big enough to build confidence. Watch people that know what they are doing,that will teach you as much as anything.Practice the pop-up on dry land...muscle memory.