Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Parent-teacher communication should mean more than teachers lecturing to parents

April 16, 2010 marked the 14th Annual Day of Silence for students to demonstrate how discrimination against lesbian, gay, transgender youths forces them into silence. From the beginning, participation from all students, regardless of sexual orientation, has been encouraged.

I had spoken to Sylvia weeks before the day about whether or not she wanted to participate. She was afraid of getting into trouble, which I could respect, but the day before the event, she received a notification at school that all students were welcome to participate by either wearing red, or remaining silent. Unfortunately, that night, I got an email from one teacher that openly expressed her disappointment of the school's involvement in this "political" event and letting us parents know how it will negatively impact her ability to run her class if students participated.

If you read my posts back in November 2008, you know that this is an issue where I simply cannot stay silent.

I replied to the teacher, expressing my concern that she was losing sight of the message of the day; that it's possible, if not probable, that she had students that were struggling with this issue, and that silence can too often lead to suicide, bullying, or other harmful effects. I never received a response.

This same teacher is now asking for parent participation. I'm less inclined to help her now. I'm less inclined to take time out of my evening to attend her meeting. I'm now just enduring the month that Sylvia has left with her as a teacher, and will hope that Sylvia doesn't have her as a teacher next year.

The more I thought about it, the more upset I got, and it stopped being about the issue of the Day of Silence, but about the fact that I was ignored. Dismissed by her own silence.

We hear so much about parents needing to respect the teachers, help the teachers, and while I agree with that concept, what I can say is that I help more, I respect the teachers more if I feel like there's reciprocity. Is a reply really too much to expect? It's like she's missed the point of email. She uses it to save on paper, but doesn't think of it yet as a form of actual communication.

Yes, parents and teachers need to come together. I don't think it's too much to ask for the teachers to meet us halfway. Or at least, reply to our emails!


jenn said...

It always annoys me when someone doesn't respond to an email. And for a teacher to do that is really bad in my opinion. How can she expect to the parents to work with her when she doesn't respond? At least school is almost over.

Anonymous said...

Her attempt to silence you is the very reason we have this day. Good for you and Sylvia for speaking up about this.

Tara R. said...

Too often, in my own experiences, teachers will stop communicating when you no longer agree with them. If you voice any sort of opposition to their views, you are persona non gratia.

Good for you and Sylvia for refusing to remain silent.

Danielle said...

I am glad that you responded to her and I hope that the others let their children decide if they want to do it regaurdless of her beliefs.
It seems to me that a teacher should be open to and help children become individuals.

Florinda said...

Communication needs to go both ways. But given the tone of the e-mail the teacher sent, I'd be a little concerned about how to engage with her - get on the wrong foot, and she might take it out on your kid.

But having said that, I'd be less inclined to help a teacher who didn't seem responsive - if parents and teachers are supposed to work as a team, there needs to be give from both sides.

Unknown said...

Oh, man. That would irritate the heck out of me. You have every right to feel like you do, how frustrating. I think Dingo and Danielle said it best.