Thursday, October 15, 2009

I thought teachers wanted parents to come to the schools

I received an e-mail from a person looking for volunteer advice. They want to help out in their child’s classroom, but the teacher won’t give them anything to do:

I sent my daughter’s teacher a very nice e-mail at the beginning of the school year to tell her I was looking forward to helping out. Weeks passed and she never called. Before I knew it the first grading period was over. I saw other parents in other classrooms doing reading groups, marking papers, flash cards etc..., so I became a little more aggressive and sent her some parts of your list of 50 ways parents can help schools and told her what days I could come in.

We agreed on two days (1 hour each day). I go in and she’s got nothing. She apologies and said she is not used to parents asking to help. But she still has not come up with much of anything for me to help with. She does not have any other volunteers in the classroom and I am at a loss. I thought teachers wanted parents to come to the schools. Stephanie, can you offer any advice?


Peoria Parents said...

Sorry to hear that you are having problems getting your daughter's teacher to let you help her. Maybe you can work with the teacher to plan something that will supplement the current learning unit. Look closely at your daughter's classroom schedule and pay attention to what the focus is for each week.

Jill said...

My first question is what grade are we talking about here? I know that as children progress through elementary school, teachers often cut back on parent volunteers IN the classroom because they are trying to encourage more independence.

Also, newer teachers are often ill prepared for handling extra adults in the's just not something they teach us how to do in our Teacher Prep. courses. And for a new(er) teacher, preparing for another adult in the classroom may mean writing a whole extra set of plans for that person.

How about showing up just before recess and volunteering to be an extra set of eyes on the playground? Or helping move through the hallways from the classroom to gym? Library and/or computer time is also prime for help.

Often, as teachers, we aren't sure what a parent's skill set is, we aren't quite sure how an adult will interact with our class....will they only pay attention to THEIR child? Are they willing to do busy work? And sometimes we are suspicious because of previous bad this adult in the room to "spy" on me? "Spy" on another student?

I am a teacher and I've been a parent helper...I always offer to help take down/put up bulletin boards, pass back papers, make copies, monitor kids during bathroom/drink breaks, reshelve books...etc.

If you make yourself open to anything, even the 'dirty work', the teacher will probably begin to find all sorts of things you can help with.

But most of all, don't take it personally...most likely your child's teacher has little experience with classroom help.

Good luck!