Tag Archives: communications

Hello parents! Anyone listening?

This fall I’ve learned a big lesson – don’t try to communicate with adults through their ten-year old children. It doesn’t work. The group in question, of course, is my 5th grade CCD class. (This is religious education for the kids in our parish who do not go to Catholic schools. Protestants call it “Sunday school” except ours is on Wednesday evenings.) This is my eighth year teaching 5th grade, and for some reason, we have had more of a need to get announcements to the parents than in past years. One big issue has been our Christmas pageant. Our class was asked to provide readers/narrators. However, this involved only half the class, which created the opportunity for confusion over schedules, etc.

Unfortunately, announcements made in class go through the filters of 10 or 11 year-olds, who may or may not remember to pass it on to their parents (and may or may not get the information correct.) Even written hand-outs don’t always make it to their intended destination. Of course an in-class announcement or handout is useless for a student who isn’t there that evening.

Then you have the students who deliver the message properly and accurately, but their parents don’t believe them.

Mother of troublesome child: “Yes, she told me that you told her she shouldn’t come to class tonight unless she was in the pageant, but I told her she must have been mistaken.”

Me: “No, she got it right. (And thank you for bringing her. It was a real pleasure to have her here with nothing to do except annoy the other children who are involved in the program.”

I maintain a second blog to update parents on what we are teaching and talking about on a weekly basis. However, judging from the number of “hits” it gets each week, I can see that most of our parents are not taking advantage of this resource to stay informed.

The inability to communicate with parents presents real problems when trying to schedule things like the pageant. One program will be during a regular CCD class time slot. That isn’t much of a problem; the kids should be there anyway. However, a second presentation will be at 6 pm Mass on Christmas Eve. The children have no control over their schedule. They can say they want to read at Christmas Eve Mass, but if their parents have another idea for the family, the little darlings have no say in the matter.

We have one boy who really wants to participate. He stopped my co-teacher in his school parking lot last week and told her how excited he was to be involved. The problem is — he was there for the first introductory run-though of the program but hasn’t been seen since. He missed the next two practices during the regular class time-slots as well as our special Saturday morning rehearsal. So do we penalize the kid because Mom can’t get remember when the rehearsals are and get him there? (FYI – If he shows up, we’ll let him read.)

In January, I’ll assemble an email list and see if that works any better.

Bottom line – I love the kids. The parents are a little exasperating.

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A small victory

I scored one small victory last night. It comes on the heels of one of my biggest disappointments while on my current job.

Part of my job is to open lines of communication between the science we do and the general public. In the past, we have held public lecture series. The last series which we sponsored last fall was pretty much a dismal failure. For a variety of reasons, our attendance was miserable. Feeling a little burned, some of the people here, including myself, have been reluctant to get back on the horse and try again.

I decided to take a different tack. Rather than sponsoring a publicly advertised lecture series, we went with a smaller, more exclusive event. We targeted the roughly 240 families that are members of our foundation. We billed it as a special, “by invitation only” event, and sent out printed invitations to the membership. We asked for RSVP’s because “space is limited.” We also encouraged our members to bring their friends as “their guests.” We included a wine/beer/snacks reception.

Our program focused less on science, and more on adventure. The speaker, one of our scientists, has been doing a lot of work in the Arctic Ocean at Barrow, Alaska.

Apparently, it worked. We had 50 people respond and show up. That is right at our target figure. (We have crammed 100 people into our largest meeting room, but it was not pleasant.)

Everyone was happy. Yea! We’ll try another one in the fall and hope for similar or even better results.