Easing the back-to-school daze for parent and new students

Every August for the past three years, I have put on sturdy shoes, taken a breath and accompanied my twins to the meet-and-greet held at their middle school the day before school resumes.

With close to a thousand people flooding the school for an hour on a hot, sticky summer day, it is more melee than meet-and-greet. I always spy a few rising sixth graders holding back tears or shrinking against the wall as they confront hundreds of preteens dashing through the halls looking for classmates and classrooms.

Our middle school is growing and now has nearly 800 students. Many students attend the meet-and-greets with parents and younger siblings in tow. This year may have been the worst crush of squealing, swarming and sweating students. The corridor was so aromatic that rather than glue sticks, the school supply list should mandate Speed Sticks.

With so many people and so little time, the event became a meet-and-nod, a quick exchange of “hellos” with teachers surrounded by parents and children waiting to make introductions. There has to be a better way to kick off the new year. A new neighbor, herself an educator, said her upcoming sixth grader — a shy girl already nervous about the transition to a large middle school — returned home, retreated to her bedroom and wept.

As a longtime public school parent, I wish districts gave more consideration to first impressions, community relations and the entire process of inaugurating a new year.

For instance, a simple solution to meet-and-greet anxieties is to hold a separate session for each grade or at least for the youngest classes.

A friend in north Fulton told me that her middle school holds three consecutive open houses, each an hour long and each limited to a single grade.

Better communications would be helpful. I remain surprised at the under-utilization of email to disseminate information about the new school year, new staff and new procedures.

School districts once maintained that not all families could be reached via email, but now nearly 80 percent of Americans have Internet access.

Many systems wait to the last minute to notify students about their classroom assignments. The usual explanation is that rosters are not finalized until days before school resumes, yet some systems tell parents early in the summer.

(A friend who teaches at one of Atlanta’s most prestigious private academies told me that the school also delays to the bitter end, in part to deflect parent requests for class switches. I suspect that is part of the public school motivation as well.)

Parents grow nervous when they discover their child is assigned to a new teacher. When they scour school websites, often bios aren’t posted yet for the new teachers or the information is sketchy. Schools could allay a lot of fretting if they sent out email biographies of all their teachers.

And those bios should “sell” the teachers, the same way that real estate companies tout their newest agents. (“She’s in the Million Dollar Sales Club.” “Nobody knows Vinings better.”) Tell parents about the teachers’ education, experience and philosophies. Let teachers pen their own bios. Include their photos and email addresses.

Teachers themselves should assemble email lists of the parents in their classes and send out welcome notes. A smart teacher I once interviewed dispatches a standard note — with some variations — to parents after the first month or so of school, saying how much she is enjoying their child in class. She says the effort takes her about 30 minutes but buys immeasurable good will.

Principals complain about informal parent grapevines spreading disinformation, but it’s often because schools leave out critical details.

For example, if a school is holding girls volleyball tryouts this week, it’s helpful to include a reality check, along with the time and place, in the announcement. Tell parents upfront that the team is limited to 14 players, so it will be unlikely than an inexperienced candidate will earn a jersey if 50 girls try out.

A deep well of ill feelings can develop when parents don’t understand that not every aspirant will win a spot on a team or in a school play. I know parents still nursing grudges because their child was summarily rejected from the freshmen soccer team or the high school production of “Our Town.”

Finally, a simple note from the principal — “Don’t be afraid to ask me anything” — can go a long way to making parent and kids feel welcome and acknowledged.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

91 comments Add your comment

no great choice

August 11th, 2012
6:30 am

My child’s DeKalb middle school had a seperate day for 6th grade parents to register and then the next day an event strictly for 6th graders. The session for students was 3 plus hours and had them practicing their schedules and lockers, learning the rules, etc. For registration 7th grade came at one time, 8th at another.
Our neighborhood high school does something similar for freshman, registration one night and then a bridging program just for students.
Have you ever suggested your ideas to the PTA or the school council? Offered to chair registration? This is how most of these things I described started, initiated by parents.

catlady

August 11th, 2012
6:51 am

Our high school does one open house just for incoming 9th graders. I think that is wise. I wish we could get away from this herd mentality. Two hours to have folks rush up and down the halls is not such good PR. And I agree about having the bio info out there. In our area, I don’t think email is as helpful as much less than 50% have it.

A DeKalb Educator

August 11th, 2012
7:01 am

“I wish districts gave more consideration to first impressions, community relations and the entire process of inaugurating a new year.” Now imagine that you are a newcomer to the US because you are a refugee (and therefore legally admitted into the US by the US government) and your first impression of schooling in the US is to go to schools that are ill prepared to handle registration of ELL (English Language Learners) because the county hastily shut down the Center that for the last 5 years specialized in registering newly arrived refugee youth into the school system, there are no translators to assist the families (because they ALL were terminated), and now you have to wait 2+ hours for someone who is not trained to evaluate your child for proper services (which the school is required, by law, to provide the child). Then, your child will spend the first week of school (at least) waiting to be evaluated and then properly placed in the correct place for services. Can you imagine the “impression” newly arrived refugee parents get when they come to register their children in DeKalb County Schools? And what is so sad to me is that the newly arrived refugees have such high expectations and beliefs about what education is in the US….and then have to deal with that from the start. It is sad that we let them down in this way….

William Casey

August 11th, 2012
7:09 am

A seperate orientation for newcomers seems self evident. The high schools in North Fulton always did this going back to the 1990’s.

sloboffthestreet

August 11th, 2012
8:52 am

What do you call humor without laughter?

God Bless the Teacher!

August 11th, 2012
8:57 am

I, too, agree that a separate Open House be held for rising first-timers to a new school. Consider, though, that Open House is held during preplanning. In my district it’s held the afternoon of one of the preplanning days. Holding additional Open Houses will take more planning time away during the day or require teachers to hang around for one or multiple after-hour times to meet-and-greet. I agree with you that these meetings are like speed dating. Not a lot is accomplished other than greeting each other and telling parents and students that students must ask questions about material they don’t understand.

I also offer the following:
1) Parents need to update their contact information every time it changes. Too many times I send an e-mail to the address in our gradebook program only to have it kickback as being invalid. Or a phone number has been disconnected. Then I have to spend planning time tracking down the emergency contact card to see if that information is different and/or valid. Then I have to send an e-mail to the guidance office to alert them to update any correct information. Parents should take care of this up front.
2) Though I have a brief bio on my school web site, I’m not going to put a picture with it. Sorry, on weekends and during breaks I don’t necessarily want anyone to recognize me out in public. I enjoy having a little anonymity when I grocery shop in shorts and sandles. Sending out bios to “sell” teachers. The truth is out, you and many in the public think we’re slaves!
3) Believe it or not, sometimes the master schedule isn’t locked in until the last day of preplanning. Students with IEPs have to be accommodated according to the IEP. If said student didn’t register until during preplanning, it may necessitate a sudden change in the schedule. Changing when a class is offered to accommodate the one student may require changing when ten other classes in the schedule are offered, and the teachers who teach them. Trust me, even teachers are frustrated when we sometimes don’t know our schedules until the Friday before the cherubs show up.
4) Most schools, at least those in my district, make an extra effort to post critical information on schools’ web sites. That should be the first place to get accurate information. I’ve talked to a number of parents who claimed they “didn’t know” about something, when it’s been on our web site for months and/or a letter has been sent home with every student.
5) If any parent or student is distraught over not being selected for a team or production, or has the delusion that everyone should be selected, then someone has issues of entitlement. Really? Get a reality check, not everybody is selected. Get over it, learn from, improve your skills, and try again next year. Or find something to do better suited to your abilities.

Have a great school year, all of you fellow educators out there!!

northatlantateacher

August 11th, 2012
9:00 am

I teach in a very affluent area and we communicate, communicate and then communicate some more. Email, phone messenger, texts, website(s), and our office is a revolving door of parents coming and going all the time.
There is still quite a large amount of grapevine action about teachers and coaches. Most of it is either totally false or tinged with personal bias, i.e. human nature. I don’t think there is anything that can be done to avoid it.

northatlantateacher

August 11th, 2012
9:03 am

And about the schedule – ours is still changing as we get new students. Often it isn’t “locked” until a few weeks in to the year. Just the reality, and I really resent the implication that schools keep it a secret. At least in public school this has never been true anywhere I’ve worked. The nature of public education demands we must accomodate every kid that walks through our door, and that means constant schedule changes.

Athens Girl

August 11th, 2012
10:04 am

@ sloboffthestreet: I always called it sarcasm.

Beverly Fraud

August 11th, 2012
10:27 am

“As a longtime public school parent, I wish districts gave more consideration to first impressions, community relations and the entire process of inaugurating a new year.”

This would require school systems to act INTELLIGENTLY. Have you seen much evidence that they are capable of that?

Now on the other hand, how many parents did their part? Namely go to the principal and say, “This is NONSENSE. I’ll be happy to come back when you organize this properly. If it was mandated to you to do it this way, please provide the name of the person who mandated it, so this can be communicated to them.”

Beverly Fraud

August 11th, 2012
10:33 am

“There has to be a better way to kick off the new year.”

Yes there is. While the parents are there, they COMMUNICATE with other parents. They ask them if THEY also there has to be a better way. And then you COMMUNICATE that with the principal.

Did that happen?

Beverly Fraud

August 11th, 2012
10:38 am

“if THEY also think there has to be a better way” that is.

And they CAN be nice and cordial about it. They CAN replace the word nonsense with “doesn’t seem to be the most effective way” If the principal has a brain, he/she will understand it’s NONSENSE

But if this wasn’t communicated (well I guess it is now with Maureen’s blog LOL) why wasn’t it? As much as parents complain about NONSENSE, this sounds legitimate.

Dr. Monica Henson

August 11th, 2012
10:43 am

My school, Provost Academy Georgia (which is actually a statewide charter district), has a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/#!/ProvostAcademyGeorgia. When families enroll, our Enrollment Services Center staff let them know about the FB page. We have posted photos and bios of all of our staff, along with news that impacts the school, interesting information about virtual education, education reform information, etc. Our FB posts feed automatically into our Twitter account. Parents, students, and the community can post comments and questions on our Page, keeping us informed about our constituents, adding another communication avenue than phone calls and emails.

DeKalb family

August 11th, 2012
10:46 am

I agree with Maureen’s points and am surprised at the pushback in some of the comments. What I think she is suggesting is a process of engaging in a relationship with a “best foot forward” approach. The little things do matter and the time invested up front to create favorable impressions and good will pay off over the course of the year.

A friend of mine said one of her frustrations after moving her middle schooler to private school is that she felt the biggest change was in improved communication. In other words, the changes she appreciated the most could be implemented in public schools with the investment of thought and planning; no new dollars needed.

Of course, that was 4 years ago before DeKalb increased class size to beyond ridiculous and furloughed teachers during their planning days. Good relationships take time and now that has been taken away. It seems like we’re expecting teachers to do more and more uncompensated work and for more students.

Beverly Fraud

August 11th, 2012
10:56 am

My school, Provost Academy Georgia (which is actually a statewide charter district),

Statewide charter? How EVIL. I bet the state didn’t give you just a billion dollars. I bet they gave you a MILLION!

Kawla

August 11th, 2012
11:26 am

My daughter is in public school this year after being homeschooled (4th grade). The web site is not up to date (several broken links, staff listed for each grade- half of whom are no longer there, and so on) and communication is minimal. (though I will say on her open house her teacher did sit down with me and we had a nice unrushed talk about the transition) My question is how can I best be involved in the school, so that I get an good understanding of what is going on? I have offered to be room mother – what else should I do?

MSTeacher

August 11th, 2012
11:32 am

I have been a teacher in numerous schools. There is never an easy way to meet and greet with parents during open house. No matter what we tried the parents ALWAYS complained. It is either too short, too long, too hot, too cold, to personal, not personal enough. Seriously, parents are never happy. As a teacher, for the last 23 years, I have learned that schools/school systems will never be good enough for parents.

Parents, if you want schools to do something differently develop a plan, well before the event, present it to the principal for consideration in a positive manner, be open to discussion about it, and understand that there are things even a principal does not have control to change. Also remember that teachers are parents too. How do you think it feels to miss your own child’s open house because you are meeting unhappy parents for your own classroom? Double displeasure.Give teachers a chance before making assumptions.

My school district allotted two hours for open house on the second day of our two day pre-planning, the first day was a day long workshop. The principal and teachers did not have a choice. We had to do what we were told. And guess what, we didn’t even know the final class roster until the first day of school. Students enroll or move and changes had to be made. There are rules that must be followed with gifted and special ed. In the perfect world parents would be considerate and kind. They would understand that teachers are not at fault. We are just as frustrated.

northatlantateacher

August 11th, 2012
11:41 am

@Kawla: That’s an excellent start. I’m sorry to hear the communication has been minimal. There are some things you can do to become involved and use what you learn to benefit your child.
1. Volunteer in the Media Center.
2. Some schools have a copy room. I worked at one that was staffed by voluteers from the PTA. Check and see if that is a possiblity for you.
3. Some schools may even need your help in the front office. I worked at a school that welcomed this, and some that have not. It just depends on the principal’s policies/school disctrict’s policies.
4. Join the PTA or any other parent organization at your school.

Good luck to you. Your child’s teacher sounds like he/she is involved and cares. That’s a great start.

Once Again

August 11th, 2012
12:09 pm

Best way to address the issue for all – HOMESCHOOL. No need to send your child off to the government childrens prison system. The anxiety, the fear, the anticipation, etc. are all because the schools are designed to destroy the will of children so they will become compliant, obedient citizens who question nothing and just work to pay their taxes. Why contribute your precious children to this process? Consider an alternative. The resources available to make this the most wonderful and magical experience you all can share are so readily available today that there is no excuse not to at least explore the possibilities. They are your children after all. Don’t they deserve the best you can give them?

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

August 11th, 2012
1:30 pm

Schooling is a year-round activity. And the sooner GAPubEd realizes this time- and money-expensive fact, the better-off its students’ll be.

The interlude between school years should be given over to the individual, face-to-face teacher-parent interactions upon which best results are founded.

bootney farnsworth

August 11th, 2012
1:30 pm

@ once

yawn. try a new script – yours is overused.

Truth in Moderation

August 11th, 2012
2:51 pm

@Bootney

Have you ever taught a biotech class? LOL! This project would be a little hard to do from home.
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/hs/mckinley/2008/02/who_murdered_dr_bootney_farnsw.html

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

August 11th, 2012
3:19 pm

@Once”The anxiety, the fear, the anticipation, etc. are all because the schools are designed to destroy the will of children so they will become compliant, obedient citizens who question nothing and just work to pay their taxes. ”

Wow. You caught me out. That is why I have invested so much time and money in obtaining my education degree and maintaining and updating my skills year after year. That is why I have spent thousands of dollars out of my pocket to buy supplies and materials to help educate my students. That is why I have volunteered unpaid tutoring time with struggling students before and after official school hours. That is why I constantly challenge my students to question and think and discover. That is why my I have students write to me years after leaving my class to tell me how much of a positive influence I had on them when they were 8 years old.

Just so I could help “destroy the will of children so they will become compliant, obedient citizens who question nothing and just work to pay their taxes.”

Could you possibly exaggerate and engage in fear mongering any more blatantly?

Solutions

August 11th, 2012
3:21 pm

Free babysitting from 8 to 4, courtesy of your property owning neighbors, including the ones who are childless, or who send their children to private schools! Another tax and give away special from your government, paid for by someone else, of course!

Atlanta Mom

August 11th, 2012
3:40 pm

Once again,
You stated :.. “the schools are designed…..destroy the will of children so they will become compliant etc etc”
To that I reply, they failed miserably with my children. My children are well behaved, polite and respectful, but they learned that at home.
My children question everything. They also understand that taxes are a necessary evil.
Seems to me, your are the one who is afraid to expose your precious children to ideas that differ from your own.

ABC

August 11th, 2012
4:02 pm

Both my elementary and middle school in Cobb Co do a separate open house for the 1st years (Kinders and 6th graders). It doesn’t make it a whole lot easier for the 1st timers, but I think it’s better for the non-noobs! That way by the time they get there, the new commers are done and they can get their stuff done quickly.

I’m not sure meet and greets can be made any easier. You have a WHOLE lotta people and things to do in a short amount of time. I think the whole not knowing the teacher assignment till the last minute is a bunch of BS. They just don’t want to deal with parent’s complaints all summer long. Well tough patootie. If you didn’t have crappy teachers and/or did a better job at assigning teachers that wouldn’t happen.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

August 11th, 2012
4:43 pm

@ABC “I think the whole not knowing the teacher assignment till the last minute is a bunch of BS. ”

That is likely because you do not work in a school setting, and therefore have little knowledge or understanding about what factors may affect teacher assignments. Registration and assignment of students in a very dynamic process and may even continue into the first couple weeks of school. We were switching around students up till one hour before parents arrived for meet the teacher. It had nothing to do with “crappy teachers” or not doing a good job assigning teachers.

Sometimes special needs students register at the last minute, which requires them to be placed in certain classrooms in order to receive services, which then overloads those classrooms, so students have to be reassigned to keep from having too many in one room verse too few in another. Sometimes students, who have moved out of district, suddenly show up again and have to be placed in classrooms away from certain other students (due to parent or teacher recommendations) which also causes a need for a shuffling of students. Sometimes students, who are registered, turn out to have moved, which means that some classrooms end up with students on their rolls who will not be attending, and again, students are reshuffled to balance out numbers. Sometimes a medical condition may be reported by a parents, that required rethinking assignments. For example, several children with severe peanut allergies may be placed in the same classroom, so that the one classroom can be a “peanut free” zone as opposed to this affecting several rooms. We do not always know such things ahead of time. Sometimes so many new students register at the last minute, that classroom enrollment numbers pass what the district will accept, and a new teacher may be hired to take up the slack – another situation in which students are reassigned. It may not seem like much, but when one classroom has 18 students and another has 23, it is unfair to both students and teachers. Schools generally do their best to keep numbers fairly balanced.

Kawla

August 11th, 2012
5:56 pm

@northatlantateacher – thanks for the suggestions. I will check them out. I want to be involved as I can, without overwhelming the teacher. It is very hard to go from homeschool, where I knew all that she was studying and how she was doing in each subject , to not knowing much of anything…. as this blog points out again and again that parent involvement is the key to sucess, so I very much want remain in touch with what she is doing….

Truth in Moderation

August 11th, 2012
5:58 pm

“they will become compliant, obedient citizens who question nothing and just work to pay their taxes. ”

THE PROOF:
“I have invested so much time and money in obtaining my education degree and maintaining and updating my skills year after year. That is why I have spent thousands of dollars out of my pocket to buy supplies and materials to help educate my students. That is why I have volunteered unpaid tutoring time with struggling students before and after official school hours.”

WHY do you work for free and personally fund public school supplies?
Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein would NEVER do that!
http://dailycaller.com/2012/07/18/goldman-sachs-ceo-pushes-daily-callers-microphone-away-video/
http://money.cnn.com/2012/05/15/markets/jpmorgan-shareholder-meeting/index.htm

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

August 11th, 2012
6:30 pm

@Truth in Moderation “THE PROOF:…WHY do you work for free and personally fund public school supplies?”

I really shouldn’t have to, should I, but apparently, others do not feel there is a real need for additional funding in public schools. After all, isn’t the funding for education all being wasted and tossed down a black hole? Isn’t “throwing money at the problem” a waste of resources?

However, if I don’t buy supplies, some of my students won’t have books to use in class, or scissors, or paper. I won’t be able to do those hands on science experiments that improve students’ science understanding and achievement. And my students will not get the full benefit of my teaching. If I do not give of myself and work with some students, they may never learn to read or write, and will continue to be a drain on society their whole lives. If I can help a child become a productive, educated member of society who can better his/her life, isn’t that a good thing?

I am not certain what you are insinuating with your comment. Do you mean to suggest that I spend my own money and time because I am “a compliant, obedient citizens who questions nothing” – or a good little toady?

I suppose I could throw a fit, but who would listen? I would just get accused of “whining” again. Remember, I am overpaid and lazy, right?

So why do I go the extra mile? I do so because money is less important to me than doing good in the world. I have made a choice about what is meaningful in my life, and what gives ME meaning is doing for others and helping them grow and learn – helping nurture the future… I find that fulfilling. I make a difference. That does not mean I am particularly HAPPY about playing the martyr. And there is a point at which I would throw in the towel, as many of my fellow educators have already done. But I hang in there because I make a difference and that means enough to me to counterbalance the crap. For now.

I doubt Jamie Dimon or Lloyd Blankfein would even understand my life’s philosophy. Likely, they would consider me a chump. So be it. I am proud to be a “chump” if it means being of service to others and helping children reach their full potential. Ultimately, greed is soul killing.

Old timer

August 11th, 2012
6:37 pm

Once Again…..homeschool can be wonderful experience. My sister-in-law homeschools my two nieces. They have been so well educated…..do amazing work. I am floored at what they do. They also net work for sciences etc. the girls are social and very well adjusted….I am an experienced…retired old teacher and am amazed at what they can do.
I know all are not as good….just like some schools are better than others…I like the fact that there are choices that work for everyone.

Beverly Fraud

August 11th, 2012
6:45 pm

“I really shouldn’t have to, should I, but apparently, others do not feel there is a real need for additional funding in public schools. After all, isn’t the funding for education all being wasted and tossed down a black hole?”

@I love teaching it IS going down a black hole-close to $600,000 for Beverly Hall for bonuses based on CHEATING? $2100 for a CHAIR in DCSS?. Bibb hires a guy who got a five THOUSAND dollar desk for his last office? Clayton spends $40,000 to track down the source of a rumor? ($40,000 to kill a tumor might be understandable but a RUMOR?)

And why can they get away with it? Because the do-gooder teacher makes up for it out of their own FURLOUGHED pocket!

Because teachers do this, they ENABLE systems to not feel the natural consequences of their actions. Same with furloughs-teachers show up anyway, thus the system feels no pain. Sometimes teachers are there own worst enemies. My God, the largest teacher “union” in Clayton CCEA actively sought to ABOLISH the right of a teacher to remove a severely disruptive child from the sanctity of the learning environment…even temporarily!

If teachers will pay dues to an organization that worked to ABOLISH the right of a teacher to remove someone (even temporarily!) from the learning environment, is it not fair to say that, of all teachers should NOT be blamed for, once thing they should be blamed for is acting like DOORMATS?

Beverly Fraud

August 11th, 2012
6:47 pm

“My sister-in-law hoes hooks two nieces”

Not sure what that means; not sure I want to KNOW what that means LOL

Let’s hope that’s a typo

Beverly Fraud

August 11th, 2012
6:48 pm

THEIR own worst enemies that is…

Tony

August 11th, 2012
6:49 pm

As a school principal, I found many of the suggestions in this blog helpful and relevant for consideration. I’m going to print a transcript for our school team to review so we can implement some of the ideas.

Beverly Fraud

August 11th, 2012
7:21 pm

“So why do I go the extra mile? I do so because money is less important to me than doing good in the world.”

@I love, I get what you are saying, but in a way, it’s like buying the alcoholic (school system) another drink. Actually it’s more like paying the alcoholic’s rent so HE can go buy another drink (the $5000 desk, the $2100 chair, etc.)

In a way it helps the kids sure, but in a way in enables school systems to NOT help; it allows them to waste taxpayer dollars, because they can always count on the teacher to make it up, does it not?

Now if the teacher organizations like GAE and PAGE wanted to REALLY stand up for teachers, they’d at the least, express outrage that teachers are treated this way. But then again, that might upset the ADMINISTRATORS they represent wouldn’t it?

Teachers as doormats; it’s part of what the educational establishment counts on. Teachers KNOW this is true, but they are too self defensive to admit it.

johnscreekmom

August 11th, 2012
7:48 pm

Maureen, as far as bios on school websites, most teachers/staff members do not want personal information published on the internet, especially photos. I worked at a school where the principal required it for the school’s website and you would be surprised at the push-back that was received. I don’t think legally you can require that of staff. Name and school email is about it. Parents can get the personal info/bio/etc. when they come to open house/curriculum night.

johnscreekmom

August 11th, 2012
7:51 pm

Oh, and as far as email communication, the school I currently work in publishes email blasts from the PTA and administration. The problem is that people are so inundated with email that most don’t even read the stuff, no matter how important the info is. Parents will call the school for basic information that is already posted on the school website, sent out in the summer mailer, or that was pushed out in an email blast but they chose not to read it. Go figure . . . And we wonder why kids are lazy.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

August 11th, 2012
7:54 pm

@Beverly “Teachers KNOW this is true, but they are too self defensive to admit it.”

Believe it or not, I agree with you. In a way, teachers are doormats. And yes, the system counts upon it. It makes me furious, and yet, I am not sure how to fight it. It is not that I am defensive, but in asking teachers to stop being “do-gooders” you are asking them to go against the very essence of what it is that MAKES them good teachers in the first place! Sometimes, it seems we are the only thing that stands between the children and those who would sacrifice them to their own ambition.

Friends tell me I should leave the classroom and go into higher administration so I can influence policy – but administration is not something I would enjoy doing, no matter how well suited for it I may be. I love working with the kids. It is my passion. The same personality traits that make my colleagues and me wonderful nurturers and teachers also undermines our ability to buck the system. We put our students first because we CARE too much about them to risk them by throwing them under the bus. We work cooperatively, not competitively. We chose the field to help others, not get rich. We tend to avoid power struggles, school politics and confrontation, and we have NO protection if we go up against the establishment. You tell me, how are teachers with no job protection supposed to fight the establishment? You KNOW what happened to those teachers who blew the whistle on the Atlanta testing scandal. I would have done the same, and would likely be jobless now.

Thus, the need for a REAL teachers’ union presence in Georgia – but that is about as likely to happen as pigs learning to fly.

Beverly Fraud

August 11th, 2012
8:02 pm

“It is not that I am defensive, but in asking teachers to stop being “do-gooders” you are asking them to go against the very essence of what it is that MAKES them good teachers in the first place! ”

@I love, I but you probably aren’t…but you’re peers as a whole. Have you ever spoke up a faculty meeting and had your peers say that was a good point…but they say this AFTER the meeting?

“You tell me, how are teachers with no job protection supposed to fight the establishment?”

Teachers have to change their mindset if possible; first of all don’t give dues to organizations that fight to ABOLISH your right to remove a severely disruptive child, even temporarily.

Teachers are no unlike a group of chickens that say “I don’t want to join that PETA; they seem way too radical. Think I’ll join that Truett Cathy group Chick-fil-A. They seem like a reasonable bunch”

And that’s the mentality that’s killing teachers right now

Long Time Teacher

August 11th, 2012
8:41 pm

The United States of America has this great process called “voting”. All of us need to get out and vote for every election. If we don’t like the governor or legislators, we need to vote them out of office. It is okay to not vote Republican. It is not a sin as some would have you believe. Vote to get the results that you are looking for. The power is in the vote. Vote, vote, vote in November.

catlady

August 11th, 2012
8:45 pm

As far as you can’t please people–We have it from 4-6 (bad time, nobody’s home yet, we are eating dinner), 6-8 (Bad time, we just got home, gotta eat dinner, what about bedtime), 2-4 (all the parents are at work–even though less than 50% of them do).

We provide food (We don’t like that, there wasn’t any left, those darned Latinos and their big families scarfed it all up) We don’t provide food (is this any way to welcome people?)

We have a program that starts at a certain time (too rigid, we can’t get there, how boring) We have it drop in (too disorganized)

Etc, etc, etc. ad nauseum

Last year we had about a half dozen PTA folks who came and helped! It was great! But still people griped.

My daughter’s middle/upper middle class Hall County school had open house Thursday. She had 20 of 22 kids’ parent or parents show up! And one that couldn’t come missed it because she was in the hospital! Wow! I’d love to see us have a turnout like that!

Anonmom

August 11th, 2012
8:47 pm

our DCSS middle school is up to about 1500 kids (3 grades) — each grade had a separate time for “registration” and meeting teachers — for a few hours on the same day. 9th grade at the high school had a separate time to come to the local high school with an orientation and 10-12 came at once. In our private school, the 100 kids to the 9th grade are currently on a 2 day retreat to welcome them to 9th grade; new kids had a “meet and greet” the night before and were assigned “buddies” from the class to “introlduce” them around and then all new kids (including all 9th graders, come for orientation, lockers, computers, get-to-know-the-campus, etc. the day before school starts — they work very hard to get the kids integretraged into the school. That being said, my 10th grader is elated not to be a freshman this year — when I asked he had a cat’s grin from ear to ear!

Hillbilly D

August 11th, 2012
8:48 pm

Back when I was going to school, we got a piece of paper on registration day, telling us what rooms to be in, which period, the first day of school. That was about it. We figured it out as we went.

NWGA Teacher

August 11th, 2012
9:23 pm

I don’t know anyone who wants a “bio” on the school website. People have been stalked, don’t want to be forced to take calls at night and on weekends, etc. I am protective of my private life and personal time.

CSD Parent

August 11th, 2012
9:28 pm

Not hard to guess that this was Renfroe Middle School. We were in that madhouse too. Luckily we are already experienced RMS parents and knew that the crazy crush was not reflective of the everyday warm, fun RMS school experience. City Schools of Decatur’s strengths are its wonderful teachers, staff, families, and students. It’s weaknesses are its customer service and defensiveness. It operates on the premise that less information to parents will prevent complaints even though studies have long proven that transparency, communication, and parent involvement increases school performance and lessens problems and lawsuits. In fact, I think school system lawyers are part of the problem. They are so busy telling school leaders what not to say or do that everyone has lost their common sense about what really works in terms of communication and risk management. Public school systems have a long ways to go before they learn to truly collaborate with parents and the community. They need to learn before homeschooling, charter schools, and private schools take away their support base–the tax-payers.

Beverly Fraud

August 11th, 2012
9:28 pm

“The power is in the vote. Vote, vote, vote in November.”

But @Long Time Teacher, what do you want to bet people in Atlanta will re-elect the same board members who ENABLED Beverly Hall’s APS to cheat?

Unless you were elected after the AJC broke the cheating story, you enabled cheating. Period. You sat by as the “miracle scores” rolled in, basked in the glow, knowing full well (unless they are idiots) that it was a LIE and did nothing.

The “bidness” community endorsed them over and over; in essence how can you not say they endorsed CHEATING?

If Atlanta re-elects LaChandra Butler-Burks, who as this very paper documented, conspired with Beverly Hall to delete Porter report (a DAMNING indictment, that all but proved cheating) isn’t it BEYOND hope?

Yes people can vote; they can even vote in IGNORANT and UNINFORMED ways. And sad to say, when it comes to local school board races, IGNORANT and UNINFORMED rules the day.

Dr. Monica Henson

August 11th, 2012
9:37 pm

Staff members who don’t want photos and bios posted on a school website–wow! I wouldn’t want staff members like that at my school. Presenting a bio and photo doesn’t obligate anyone to provide personal contact information, nor does it force anyone to take calls at night or on weekends. What it does is present a friendly and personal aspect to kids and their families–a welcoming atmosphere is established before they even make a visit to the school. I honestly see nothing wrong with that at all.

Beverly Fraud

August 11th, 2012
9:59 pm

“Staff members who don’t want photos and bios posted on a school website–wow! I wouldn’t want staff members like that at my school.”

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are exceptions Dr. Henson. For example, I know someone who escaped a horribly abusive relationship, where the abuser was even willing to go to a different state to continue stalking. Because of that, they don’t have Facebook or any other social media accounts.

So there are exceptions. However, in that case, I’m sure a letter could be sent to the parents, with the appropriate bio.

Once Again

August 12th, 2012
12:41 am

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming.. – My comments were about the system, not the individuals who support it with their time and their energy. Folks like you are just deluded into believing that what you are doing will achieve results that are contrary to the fundamental goals of the system. I feel for you. You are certainly not alone.

You should check out any of John Taylor Gatto’s wonderful books or even YouTube videos. He is a former teacher of the year from NY City and NY State. He finally woke up and saw what it was all about, did his history research and found out what the true goals of government run education are about. The truth shocked him to his core, but rather than take it personally, he works to spread the message so that others can help america become free of this system that is destroying our children. Look him up.

Your ignorance of the system is to be understood. They certainly wouldn’t tell you the truth in “Teacher College.” Perpetuating the lie is the first step one you have control of the education system.