Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Do You Think: Parent Visits To Classrooms


It feels good to be back at Learning In Maine. During an epic battle with carpal tunnel this past year it took all my energy to keep my personal blog going. But I am feeling much better.

I needed some idea to get back in the saddle, and I got that idea last week.

I don't normally read editorials; I figure I listen to enough news usually to form my own opinion about whatever topic is at hand. But I do find myself reading editorials that have to do with education.

"Closed-door School Policy" appeared in the Ellsworth American and I found myself having a completely opposite point of view about it. Since I work for the paper, it isn't appropriate for me to send in a letter to the editor but I did want to put out the question to other people out there to see if others felt similarly.

The basic argument is that parents should be able to visit their kid's classroom whenever they want. I think that's completely off base.

I imagine many of us work in an environment where we control our own schedules to some degree. We know when a client will come in or whether we will need to be at a meeting later. Imagine if you worked somewhere where someone could walk in at any moment. Distracting? Hard to do your work? Absolutely. Just ask a receptionist or someone who works in a call center about being completely available. It's exhausting. Yet teachers are being asked for this constant availability in this editorial.

Is it that teachers are doing supersecret things they don't want parents to see? Of course not.

The truth is kids are distracted when their parents are there. (I certainly was when I was a student anyway.) In addition, when the parent visits, the teacher is trying to manage both the students' and parent's interests at the same time. What the parent ends up with is not even an accurate picture of a typical class.

Here's my stance on this issue: I say come on in parents but do let me know when you will so I could do a lesson that could incorporate you or even just make the observation a little less distracting. Let's face it, you're there somewhat to evaluate me and from one adult to another, that makes me a little nervous even if I am a good teacher. If you want to talk about your child specifically, let's set up a time after school where we can talk without me being distracted by teaching. Because both of us want the same thing: for me to be teaching your child the best that I can.

So what do you think about parents dropping in to your classroom? Maybe I'm being too sensitive about this but it struck a nerve with me. . .

1 comment:

Jim Burke said...

Well it certainly feels good to have you back, Nicole! :) Sit right down, put your feet on the coffee table and take a deep breath.

BTW . . great topic!