School Communication in the New Year..

We’ve all been through it. The child comes to school and says to the teacher, “So, what are we doin’ today? Nothin’, right?” The teacher then spends at least an hour demonstrating that instead of “doin’ nothin’” as the student wishes, they will indeed study Shakepeare, hone their writing skills and improve their vocabulary—for instance, ‘nothing’ instead of ‘nothin’.

The child will then return home to the eager parent, who is hoping for a good educational experience for their child and the parent will ask, “So, what did you do in school today?” The child’s inevitable reply? “Nothin’.”

Another school year has begun and speaking as a person who has been on the parent and the teacher side, I can tell you that despite all the efforts of parents and teachers, there is a serious communication gap, because the channel used for communication between parents and teachers is a child. I would love to be able to clear some of this communication problem, but, unfortunately, we are still, to this day,  using the child as a communication tool.

“Mom, my teacher said we will have an overnight campout and make whores.” A mother, not sure whether to laugh or cry, told me this story once. When the mother, slightly alarmed, finally contacted the teacher, she discovered that her 7-year-old child had replaced “sm” with “wh” as she described what they would make at the camp.

It always makes me wonder what messages go home from my classroom. When I tell students my usual grammar jokes, do they go home and tell their parents the teacher didn’t teach them, she just did a stand-up routine? And judging from their faces in the classroom, I’m guessing they don’t say I did a funny stand-up routine, either.

High school students are as likely as elementary children to get the wrong message across. “My teacher took a picture of me in journalism class,” a student reported to a friend of mine one day.

“Really?” the mother was busy preparing supper. “What were you doing that she took a picture of?”

“I was going to the bathroom,” the teenager returned casually.

My friend said she held off on her first impulse, which was to run to the school and demand to know why they were allowing pervert teachers to take pictures of students at the urinals. Instead, she asked some rather sharp questions of the teenager, who, alerted by her excitable attitude, was able to clear up that the teacher took a picture of him in the hallway as he was headed TO the bathroom.

Dates of special events are particularly difficult to communicate. Of course, most schools issue a public calendar so parents always know what is going on and where and when. However, students can really mess that up. “Mom, I have to be at the school on the 26th at 6:30 for the concert.”

“6:30? On the 26th? Are you sure? That’s today,” Mom then piles the child in the car, instructs them in how to change as they go and somehow manages to put two curly pony tails into the child’s hair without driving the car into a wall. They arrive at the school at 6:35 p.m. and no one is there. Why is no one there, you may ask? Because the date was actually the 29th and the child has a little trouble with 6’s and 9’s. Perhaps that’s something the teacher and the mom might work on communicating about!

I have said so many times that we teachers love our students. We hector them, we nag them, we scold them, we stretch them and challenge them and guide them. And along the way, they cease to be our students and become the children of our hearts. I love each and every one of them, but as this school year begins, I will make a deal with the parents: Do not take what the child says for the absolute facts—they may have gotten a few important things wrong. And if you do that, I’ll give you the same courtesy when they come to school and say, “My parents split up this morning,” and I find out it means you went in opposite directions to work that day!

Everyone have a great…and effectively communicated…school year!

© Jackie Wells-Fauth and Drops In the Well, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Wells-Fauth and Drops In The Well with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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