Parent-Teacher Communication Hits An All-Time Low

Parent teacher student girl school

>>Parent teacher student girl schoolIn a few weeks, I will attempt to lead 80 kindergartners in a holiday craft.

Go ahead, laugh. My friends certainly have. They know I’m not crafty, not patient, not fond of messes. Yes, the list goes on and on, demonstrating exactly how ill suited I am for this position.

So how did I end up here? Let’s rewind all the back to August. My son was about to start kindergarten. Our entire family trotted off to our very first “Meet the Teacher.”

We marched into the classroom and were directed toward a table full of paperwork. I dutifully sat down and started filling out forms. We waited expectantly – for what, I’m not entirely sure. A welcome, an introduction, maybe a pep talk?

I looked around and saw that all the other parents were waiting too. But as we sat and glanced at each other nervously, I realized there wasn’t anything else. We were just here to get a quick glimpse of the teacher and fill out paperwork.

I walked out of that room angrier than I have been in a long time. It was such a waste! A room full of new families to a public school, and no one reached out to them. The teacher didn’t tell parents what to expect and how they could help her. The administration didn’t tell parents what the rules and processes were. The PTA didn’t tell us all the great things going on at the school.

Believe me, that first impression will never be erased.

Less than a week into school I got another rude awakening. Our principal fussed at me – in front of my kid – for walking him into class. I overheard her tell one of the other teachers that there “are just too many parents in here.”

Now, I knew he needed to work up to walking in alone, but we just weren’t there yet. And let’s be real; I don’t leave my dog somewhere that I’m not welcome, where I can’t drop by unannounced.

I also realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to get a lot of information about what was going on in class. My son frequently can’t remember what he had for lunch, so my quizzes about the day’s lesson plans were pretty fruitless.

So I made a plan. I’m smart. I’m strategic. I can launch a counter-offensive. I work in politics, for goodness sakes.

I volunteered to be the room parent. I’d cozy up to the key players. I’d get the inside scoop on what was going on in the school. I’d meet the other parents. I’d be buddies with the teacher.

Yes, you can laugh again.

Three months in and I can tell you that none of that has happened. But, I do get many, many emails to donate time, money, and supplies for various activities. I’m pretty much solely responsible for holiday celebrations in their classroom. And, now I’m doing crafts with 80 kids.

So, that’s how I find myself here, gathering glitter and construction paper.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to participate, and I don’t really begrudge the school or the teacher for asking for what they need. But, boy, it would be really nice if I got communication from the school that wasn’t asking for something. I wish that there was more information on how I could be a partner in learning. I wish that our family was welcomed into the school – from day one.

For all the talk of the importance of parents being partners in their children’s education, I get the feeling I’m not really wanted. And that makes me sad.

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  1. carolyn

    I think the title of this article is misleading and presumes that teacher-parent communication are at an all time low generally, not just in this one person’s experience. In Durham, our schools tend to be great about parent-teacher communication. The district has a prep program for all families entering K to know what to expect. My kids are now in high school, but I got regular updates from their teachers through a weekly folder or newsletter since K. There are very good research-based reasons why K students need to enter the building on their own and parents can’t just drop by the classroom to hang out based on students needs and development (though it doesn’t always sit well with parents.)

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