Monday, July 18, 2016
I can imagine all sorts of possibilities. But no matter how good they are, I wouldn't use any of them. Since I began teaching, we've had paper checklists we could send out. I've never much trusted them because when I was in high school, I went through the mail and tossed them all in the trash. Once or twice, when supervisors insisted on it, I may have used them. I don't even remember.
In our school we put all grades online, so any parent who's interested can see a kid's grades at pretty much any time. That's fine, but alas, a whole lot of the parents we wish to get in touch with couldn't be bothered. I've sat with parents at conferences and shown them step by step how to use it. I've watched as they installed them on their smartphones. And yet, often things don't change.
So now I come to my favorite app. OK, the one in the picture is pretty old. It's been a while since I used a dial. But I still find that to be the very best way to get in touch with a parent. I mean, sure, it's inconvenient. Email and texts are much cooler, because I don't need to look at them right this minute. I can look at it when I get out of class, off of work, out of the car, out of the bar, off of the plane, or away from wherever I am now. I can look at it tonight, tomorrow, next week, next year, next millennium, or whatever it takes.
But hey, when your kid has a problem, I want to talk to you right now. I don't want to leave you a message and wait until you feel like getting back to me. I want to let you know that I'm worried about your kid, and that I know you are too, even if you aren't. I want you to know that I have great faith your kid can do better, and that I'm sure you do too, even if I'm not at all sure you do. Mostly, I want you to know that we can work together to fix this, and that we'd better do it right now.
I can't wait until you sign in to some program, check your kid's progress, consult the tea leaves, or whatever it is you need to do. I need to let you know that I'm really concerned about your time, and that I know how inconvenient it would be for you to come in during work hours. That's why we need to work out this situation. Oh you can't come? That's too bad. I would hate to have to complain to ACS. That would probably be even more inconvenient than coming in. Oh, you'll talk to him for me? Well thank you very much, I knew we could work this out.
Actually I don't usually need to have those conversations, though I have had them. Mostly I just ask parents to give good advice, and they agree. Mostly I see positive effects, and if I don't I call back. I really believe the phone is the very best app there is for contacting parents, and I've yet to see one that improves on it. Sure, it's time-consuming, but it cuts down tremendously on time I'd have to spend dealing with nonsense in class.
Now nothing is perfect, and this won't always work. But so far it works better than anything else I've seen or tried. If you have a better suggestions, I'm all ears.