Monday, August 25, 2014
Meet the Teacher BUT NO ASKING HER QUESTIONS! (What?)
The teacher gets our (parent) contact information, puts a face to a name, and is able to set up best contact method for the school year.
Kids get to see who is in their class, see the classroom, figure out where it is.
Parents get to shake hands, connect, etc.
It builds comfort all around, connects people who need to be connected, and is a great thing to do. I'm sorry to hear it's not common everywhere. It makes me more grateful for it, though.
I wanted to get to know our teacher, who is brand new to the school, so I crowdsourced my Facebook community for ideas of great questions to ask when I met the teacher, just to get a little sense of who she is.
I was stunned by how many people thought I did not have the right to or should not talk to the teacher, ask her any questions, or get to know her.
Confessing: I was a little taken aback, truth be told. Why were people so discouraging about this?
The purpose of the event is to Meet the Teacher. The teacher is new. The teacher EXPECTED parent questions and came with information and prepared to talk to parents and answer questions. She said so herself.
Custom may vary at other school meet the teachers. In our school, it seems quite common for parents to come in, greet the teacher, chat, and get to know one another. That's beneficial for both teacher and parent, in my opinion. I'm sure we learned a helpful amount in our short chat.
For example, I learned she likes technology and had a great app for communicating with parents, and she learned I thought that was fantastic. We chatted about kid birthdays. I learned she has some good teaching experience behind her and has a good approach to individual learning. She learned I am happy to help support classroom things as needed. She learned we are teaching the kids budgeting at home, which means my daughter will understand the sticker economy the class uses.
I was one of the first parents there so we chatted a few extra minutes than I'd thought to be able to, which was very nice. Other parents trailed in and got their few minutes too. My daughter and the other kids explored the classroom, identified where they'd be sitting, figured out where bags went, got information from the teacher, who now also had faces to their names (though she'll get that nearly every day, but this was a casual circumstance).
It was a very positive experience all around, I thought, though I know it is stressful for teachers to do all the setup and prep for it. I did say how much I appreciated that and gave a store gift card to help with any supplies she needed.
Hopefully, it has come through how very beneficial and positive the meet the teacher with actual talking to the teacher is. It's not a parent-teacher in depth conversation, of course. Just a chat for a couple of minutes to get to know you a bit.
As a parent, I am my child's greatest ally and advocate. I have the right to talk to the teacher and get to know her. She and I will be working together this coming year to educate my child.
But when I asked my Facebook friends for ideas of questions to ask, aside from a few exceptions, I got the strong sense that people thought I had no place, no right, to ask anything of the teacher. Teachers are so importuned, the message came across, that parents need to leave them be. Parents should not talk to teachers at meet the teacher, came the message.
That sentiment troubles me greatly.
Teachers have a wonderful job but, unfortunately, sometimes it is stressful and in terrible conditions. I can relate. I have had jobs like that too! Answering to dreadful bureaucracy, lacking resources and budget, dealing with coworkers or clients who are never satisfied or never have a good thing to say, worrying about job security and benefits, and on and on.
Unlike for most challenged workers, people are aware that teachers have this situation. That provides an opportunity for mindful courtesy.
Does that courtesy make them untouchable? It seems so for some people. The message was loud and clear: don't bother the teacher, don't trouble the teacher--asking questions and getting to know the teacher does both.
I admit that if I had approached the teacher to get to know her and she seemed unapproachable or annoyed to chat, I'd have formed a very negative impression. I'd have grave concerns about our ability to communicate as parent and teacher working for the best for my child. And yet, I got the impression, from some teachers who commented, that they would not have welcomed a parent who approached to get to know them and ask a few questions.
At our event, I was nowhere near the only parent to ask questions. There were all sorts of questions! When are bathroom breaks? What's the switch schedule and lunch? Do you need any supplies? Where were you before? When are you due? And some more in depth ones, such as the one I asked: How do you motivate kids to do what they need to do in class?
Believe it or not, all of the questions were Good To Know. At our school, mostly parents want to back up the teacher and understanding things can help with that. Some parents simply introduced themselves. That has been me many years too.
So if you are one who thinks a parent asking questions and getting to know the teacher at meet the teacher day is all wrong, defend your reason why. I'd like to understand your perspective on this. Or try to.
Other points of view are welcome to: do you think it's a good thing to do at meet the teacher? Have you met a teacher, asked a few questions, had a short chat?
Don't make it about being selfish. It's not selfish to spend a couple of minutes connecting with your child's teacher at Meet the Teacher.
Don't make it about being discourteous to other parents. The event is a full hour and every parent who wanted to had the chance to speak with the teacher. Nobody "hogged" the teacher. Everyone took a couple of minutes to chat as they wanted.
Don't make it about "it's for the kids, not for you." That's junk science. Parents are invited to meet the teacher to meet the teacher too. Kids get the chance to say hi, but mainly they want to run with friends and see the classroom. If you stay the full hour, there is ample time to chat with the teacher for a few minutes and explore the classroom with your child.
Be clear: I use the word chat on purpose. That's to make it clear it is a short, light, conversation. It's to differentiate it from an in depth conversation like you might have at a one on one conference.
Be clear: when I say a few minutes, I do mean a few minutes. I mean 3ish more or less.
So why do you think people were so inclined (in the majority) to discourage me from talking to the teacher and asking her a couple of questions at meet the teacher?