Thursday, September 22, 2005

school improvement meeting

I need to vent a little........

I went to a Title I school improvement meeting tonight run by the principal. *sigh* It's quite overwhelming. We looked at last year's test scores which were pretty good. We talked about our ideas for improvement within the school. One of the main things we talked about was how in the world to get more parents involved. Any ideas from out there in blogland?

Did I mention that there were only 5 parents in attendance? 5. only 5. The school has approximately 700 students which equates to about 400 families. That's a rather silly statistic don't you think? 5 out of 400.

So much of the success of children in education boils down to the involvement of the parents! We brainstormed ways to get more of them involved. We talked about things we might want to talk to the school board about as far as building improvements, etc. I won't get into all of that. Let's just say that our buildings need lots of work and other projects in the district are taking precedence. I could tell the principal was already a little upset over this and she got us kind of "riled up" about it then suggested that if parents would go to the school board it might help. I could tell she was trying to give us the hint that it might mean more coming from parents than from her. Not a bad strategy on her part.

I may have talked myself into running a PTA program. The PTA president happened to be there. I didn't know she was the president. I figured it out when I started making a little critical comment about the PTA. *oops* I made a comment about wanting to be involved but not knowing what to do. I had signed up for PTA but didn't know about meetings, etc. Another lady backed me up on my confusion over some of that. She started telling me about this big family night thing they like to do and how she hasn't been able to find anyone to run it, etc. hmmmm Could there be a reason for that? Is it a yucky job? I told her to email me about it. I do want to be involved. I'll think about it. I want to know what I'm getting into before I commit to running a program.

One of the moms there was so cynical sounding about things. I didn't like that. Apparently, she doesn't like her child's teacher. She made that pretty clear. I said something about getting some papers sent home in Gracie's folder about signing up for things. She waved her hand dismissively and said, "Oh. That's Kindergarten. You're in your own little world there." As if to say that in the older grades it's much less "hand holding" blah, blah, blah. I just looked at her and said, "And I'm enjoying it while I'm there." I mean, come on. I know the teachers aren't going to do as much for the kids in the older grades, I used to teach the older grades~I know this!, but don't try to burst my bubble for being happy with where my child is!

This same lady said something about her child's teacher telling her that she didn't like parent volunteers. It's too much work. I said that Gracie's teacher has everything lined out for me to do when I go and is very organized. A different mom said, "Well, that's because your teacher doesn't sleep!" I said, "Well, that's good for my child!" Again, don't try to burst my bubble because I'm happy with Gracie's teacher. One of the moms did follow up with, "She's a good teacher." She does such an excellent job and give 105%. That's a good thing! My friend Kate used to tease at the beginning at the year that maybe she doesn't really "have a life." We found out she's engaged so she decided that she must have one! lol

Anyway. It's just so overwhelming to think of all the things we could do to improve the schools. Don't get me wrong. We have been very happy with this school and Gracie's experience in Kindergarten these first almost 2 months, but when I go to one of these kinds of meetings where they're asking for improvement suggestions, I guess I should be prepared to hear about things that need improvement which would suggest that I'll hear some complaining. right?

I just wish I had "bookoos" of money to give to make some of the "physical" improvements. I also wish I could get every parent to be involved. I wish everyone could be as happy with their child's teacher as we are. I wish every child was as excited to go to school as Gracie is. I wish things were "fair" throughout schools.

Dear Lord, Please help Chris & I to be involved in such a way that we can make a difference. Please help us not to be overwhelmed but to look to you, take a deep breath, and jump in where we can to help Gracie's school to be successful. Please help me to have a good attitude! In Jesus' Name, Amen


Kate said...

Jacinda, look at it this way: Opinions are like butts; everyone has one. Don't worry about those grumpy mothers! Every school has them. And here you thought you were the annoying one. Just be sure to tell Miss S how great she is--she'll need the reinforcement if she has any parents like the ones you mentioned.

One way to get parents involved is to have more "fun" get-togethers. After a long day of work, parents aren't exactly looking forward to a boring meeting or discussion. Saturday mornings are also great times to get people involved. I also recommend not sending lengthy letters explaining stuff--keep it short and sweet.

Unfortunately we can't force people to care--we can only show them how to do it. You're doing an awesome job!

Miss Hope said...

It's a hard boat to row in, sister. I want to be involved with the girls' schools but with 3 kids....I'm just thrilled they have good, caring teachers and are happy with learning. You are a wonderfully dedicated mom. I wish I could be more like you! Keep on caring and doing what you feel is right in your heart. You won't go wrong. It's people like you who can make a difference in those 700 kids' lives. We're supporting you 100%! Keep up the good work!

Charles said...

Your comments are right on. Involving parents in the life of the school can be quite a task. My daugher is a mother of triplets. The girls just started kindergarten. She is also a teacher and wife. She stays involved but it is very difficlut given her schedule.

Your comments are typical of what I here when I talk to parents (and teachers).

Take a look at my blogs on parent involvement for some ideas. Click on my name for the addresses.

Enjoy you child! Elementary school can be quite a ride!

Dr. Chuck Amodeo