Miss Bennett in the Bay

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 18 2009

Gearing Up

Today was a 10-hour work day, and yet I am home feeling much more energized than I have felt during those 8-hour days we’ve had thus far.

The reason for this is that today was my first official day in my new classroom with the opportunity to unpack the massive amount of stuff I brought from my old classroom. The first day into your room at the beginning of the year is always an exciting one.

Today was also the day that we received a huge furniture shipment at my school. The school didn’t have a 5th grade last year, and only 2 classes of 4th graders, so a bunch of new rooms are being opened up for this year. The desks from the second grade were much too big for our students, so they were moved to the upper grades and the smaller desks and chairs were delivered for us.

It was quite the operation. A veritable army of parents and children showed up to help us move all of this stuff around. I couldn’t believe it! Every single person there was just so happy to be able to help the school that they didn’t complain one bit. Even when minor breakdowns in communication occurred (like when we already had enough desks in the room and the parents had to carry them back downstairs) nobody got upset. Furniture was moved, unpacked, put together, and organized in every classroom that needed it, and the parking lot and playground were painted all in the space of 2 hours. Our secretary pointed out to me that we would be totally unable to function without the support of the parents, and it’s true. I really can’t imagine all of the teachers doing all of that work on their own. We would probably still be working on it now.

Nothing like this ever happened at my old school, and I have spent the day trying to figure out why. I know that it is not that the parents there didn’t care, because I saw them care in my own classroom. There was just never the kind of school-wide mobilization that occurred today. And really, I think it is because nobody at my old school ever bothered to ask the parents for help. You know how the parents found out about today? The secretary called them. That’s it. Maybe a letter was sent home, maybe it wasn’t. I’m not sure. But clearly, the power of the phone call was huge for these families. I wonder what would happen at other schools if principals, secretaries, and teachers all made an effort to contact every single family before school started. Would you see an increase in parent involvement? It’s an interesting experiment to try. Has research been done on this? What efforts have you made at your school to increase parent involvement? Have they worked?

One Response

  1. I have always felt that teachers would be amazed at what parents are willing to do when asked. I fall into that complaining, cynical trap from time to time myself. Yet our school recently had 70 volunteers do eight hours of landscaping on a Saturday (in Florida, in August). All because the administration dared to ask people to help.

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"All that is gold does not glitter, not all who wander are lost." -J. R. R. Tolkien

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