Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Parent Association- Meeting 1

Tonight was the first Parent Association of the year (not PTA- something to do with Title I funds doesn't let us call it that). These are once-a-month meetings that all staff and parents are invited to so that they might talk about getting parents more involved in the education of their children and to connect with the community.

On the ground they drag along for what seems like hours when the only part that is really essential for teachers to attend is at the very end- talking to the parents. These meetings at our school last more than twice as long too, as every word going through the mic has to be translated into Spanish for half of our parents. Don't get me wrong, this is incredibly necessary and needs to be done, but it certainly doesn't make the meeting more exciting.

Don't be fooled, connecting with parents is incredibly important. A lot of people disregard this part of the job because it takes too much time. That's true, it does take way too much time. It's one of the things that gets put on the back burner and is never pulled forward. It's one of the million things that should be done very well and all the time but is not because when you teach kids there are dozens of these things that could be done and really should be done to get students the education and support they need, but are impossible if all or even most are attempted in any depth (especially for new teachers).

In spite of this fact, it is important to attend meetings like this these. Word gets around. If one parent tells another parent that they saw you at a Parent Association meeting, that's powerful. Last year I attended the first few meetings and then stopped because they took up a lot of time and it took over an hour to get home on the train. The last thing I wanted to do was sit through a meeting to say hello to a couple parents and to simply tell them that their child was doing well or needed to improve behavior. When I stopped going new parents showed up and asked where I was.

Calling parents all the time about the bad stuff grinds on you. It grinds on you because you have to tell them that the student you are trying to educate is screwing up, sometimes very badly. It can feel like you're not doing your job, that you can't do your job, and that you're reporting that fact to other people. Calling parents every night about the bad stuff gets old and makes you not want to even talk to parents. Attending PTA (or PA in this case) meetings will generally allow you to interact with the parents that don't generally get the phone calls.

My advice: Go to the Parent Association meetings. You may hear some things about your school you didn't know and you might gain the respect and cooperation of a number of your parents. It also shows your administration that you are interested in doing more than the bare minimum (whatever that is).

Wine of the Day: Concannon Pinot Noir. It's smooth, light and dry. Went well with the sushi tonight. This is a pretty inexpensive bottle, too- about $13.

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