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Mrs. Bluebird has about had it with parents who expect teachers, at a moment's notice, to gather missing work for sick kids and then don't even bother to come in and pick it up.
Well, sure, I can understand why that is frustrating. Now can Mrs. Bluebird understand why parents get frustrated when the shoe is on the other foot? You know, when a kid comes home needing some store-bought item not commonly found at home in order to complete tonight's homework--and the completed homework returns home ungraded the next day still in the student's backpack.
Trying to do what's right with only half of the needed communication is really, really difficult on both sides. I'm not here to make excuses for someone I don't know. But I would like to suggest an alternate explanation or target for anger. The ways in which we are accustomed to communicating are outmoded, outdated and not very effective. Notes go home in backpacks, students carry oral messages, the school secretary puts together a newsletter that might go out monthly (or far less). Telephone calls go through an overburdened central line--most often without voicemail, often answered by student helpers. The odds of a parent (calling during her fifteen minute break) reaching a teacher during her unassigned period are pretty slim. If the teacher gets the written phone message on the same day, odds are the parent won't be available when the return call is made.
Some districts are better. Some are probably worse. But, even in the districts with high percentages of low income students, many parents are online. Some have email on their phones. What if your school not just used these tools regularly, but could build a culture of reliance on them. What if a parent knew they only had to go to your web page to look up today's assignment and print it out? What if you could standardize this across the teaching staff so that this is always an option? What if every teacher had an email address on the school's website? Imagine if the line below home phone, work phone, cell phone, emergency contact phone on every form you ask parents to fill out had a space for email address? What if every parent got a Survey Monkey or Zoomerang one week before the start of school requesting all that information that is currently hand written on four or five different pieces of paper?
We are really just inches away from breaking down this teacher/parent barrier of frustration with one another that comes from messages getting through too little and too late. I think we can do better--with the tools we have right now.
I agree that we could do better on both sides when it comes to communication. I also can understand the frustration with having a completed homework assignment come home ungraded after having worked hard to finish it. However, even when information is requested through both handwritten and technology based forms, there is still a high percentage of information that is not returned in some areas. When this happens the school has to continually send forms home with students, make phone calls and send emails. I don't have a quick fix to bridge the communication gap between the school and parents. but I do agree that something needs to give.
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