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very upset w/school

post #1 of 70
Thread Starter 
Today I stopped in to drop off a special item for my daughters lunch. The secretary tells me I am not allowed to go into the classroom becuase I would disrupt the class and to leave the lunch at the desk. The class always does independent desk work during this time, so NO I would not have disrupted the class. And even if they were doing a lesson, I SHOULD have the right to observe the class. My other reason for wanting to drop in is to check in on dd and the teacher. there have been some issues w/ the class and I feel the best way to "keep the teacher honest" is random check ins.... what exactly do they not want me to know about? I feel very uncomfortable sending my child to a school where the parents are not welcome unless it is with pre arranged permission. What do you think? Is this normal?
post #2 of 70
not normal, not okay
post #3 of 70
I would NOT be comfortable with this "policy" either. I would start by contacting the principal and see what they say- and keep working up the chain. I think this is something they "discourage" but it's not a policy..per se. You know?
post #4 of 70
as a public school educator, i can't say i'm surprised because it is consistent with the approach that many (maybe most?) schools take. however, like a PP said, it seems to be more something that is discouraged than a strict policy.

with that said, please don't underestimate the ability of a parent to distract other children even if they are doing independent work. i work with teenagers not long from going to college and they STILL would be distracted by an unannounced visit from ANYone...parent, other teacher, maintenance worker.

try to calmly speak with an AP or principal about the matter and clarify what the policy is and express your concerns.
post #5 of 70
I really wouldn't expect to just drop in on my child's class like that, although I am pretty sure that our school wouldn't tell me no. My elem child's class is one that can be distracted pretty easily, and I know how hard the teacher is working to create a sense of rhythym and order. My experience is also that when the kids look like they are just doing independent work, there has often been a lot that's gone into getting everyone working smoothly and productively.

Anyway, it sounds like you have bigger issues with your dd's teacher/school. Were you specifically going to check in w/your dd, or look in on the teacher? It seems that the lunch break would have been a better time to bring in a treat and talk with your dd. if that was your true agenda.
post #6 of 70
My daughter's school wouldn't allow drop-ins, either. It depends on how old your child is--at a preschool or daycare I would expect to be able to drop in unannounced whenever I feel like to ensure that my daughter's being cared for properly and see her in action with the other kids, make sure no one's dirty or being bullied, etc. But now that she's in elementary school, I don't expect them to make spontaneous allowances for me to pop in and put something in her lunchbox, and certainly not to watch the class. It would put a monkey wrench into the students' routine at the very least, and I wouldn't want other parents doing it, either.

That said, my daughter's very happy with her school. If you have reason to believe that something is going on behind closed doors, I'd push for an appointment to observe the class (but keep in mind that just by being there, you're going to prevent the bad behavior you're hoping to see). If it comes down to you not fundamentally trusting this school, then observing the class may not help. It may be something you need to address with the teacher or principal or, if necessary, you may need to find a different school entirely. If the fact that they wouldn't let you pop in was the only issue, I would just let it go.
post #7 of 70
Drop ins do distrupt the class, no matter what.

If you are really concerned, why not mention it to one of the administrators. They should be doing drop in observations (we have them all the time in our school) and maybe they can address some of your concerns. The students are used to seeing these people, so they create less of a disruption.
post #8 of 70
At our school, drop-ins are allowed, but the office always offers to take the item to the child, and I usually go with that option so I don't disturb the class.

Is there another way you could observe? Are there times when it is ok to come in? We're allowed to drop in and have lunch with our child, and you do get to see the teacher and class during that time. Also, could you volunteer to help in the class? Even if you aren't in the class per se, it would put you in closer contact with the teacher.
post #9 of 70
I know how you feel. But unfortunately, it's true. An unexpected visit by a parent to the classroom will cause a disruption. In the elementary school that my ds attends, they call the student out of class to receive the item at the main office. I brought his jacket in to him. He came out of class and met me at the main office to take it.

I wish there were web cameras in the classroom so that I could check in discreetly to see how the classroom is being run and how my son is doing in school. It would give me peace of mind to know that I could peek in just to see that things were going okay.

Some of the stories that he has told me about what goes on in the classroom (1st grade) give me pause. For example,, the other day one student went into the bathroom, took her shirt off and threw it into the trash, covering it up with paper towels so that it would be difficult to find. Then proceeded to go back to her desk sans shirt. The teachers were not in the room when this happened. (I'm not certain how long they were gone) When the teachers returned the student refused to reveal where her shirt was. She ended up having to eat lunch in the classroom because her shirt couldn't be found.
post #10 of 70
They are disruptive, but I still think they should be allowed. But our school sounds a little different. I usually stop by the office and let them know what I'm doing and they'll tell me what room my kid is in.

I think no matter who comes to the classroom (the principal, secretary or a parent) it's disruptive.
post #11 of 70
I think it depends on the age. Preschool/daycare should allow drop ins. Elementary and beyond, I can see why not. You've got 30 kids or so in a classroom. That means minimally 60 immediate parents, plus steps, grandparents, and other caregivers. Not that everyone would want to drop in at the same time, but that's a LOT of potential disruption to have an open door policy.

If you distrust the teacher & school so much that the only way to resolve the issue is to have random unexpected "spot checks," you've got a much bigger problem.
post #12 of 70
I think it's normal. Drops in are a disruption. Even if they kids are working independantly, they are still working.

At the public school my kids attended, I could have observed it I wanted to, but I would have needed to arrange it before hand. And when I dropped things off for my forgetful DD, I took them to the office, the secretary called her room, and she came up and got them.
post #13 of 70
I would not expect unannounced drop ins to be allowed. I certainly would not like my childrens' schooldays to be interrupted by constant drop ins.
post #14 of 70
Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post
I think it depends on the age. Preschool/daycare should allow drop ins. Elementary and beyond, I can see why not. You've got 30 kids or so in a classroom. That means minimally 60 immediate parents, plus steps, grandparents, and other caregivers. Not that everyone would want to drop in at the same time, but that's a LOT of potential disruption to have an open door policy.
At our school, they don't allow parents to bring lunches, homework, etc. to the kids. They send a message and the kids come and get whatever it is on the way to lunch, etc. Our classrooms are very open to parent volunteers, but the # of volunteers and when they come is set on a teacher by teacher basis. If you wanted to observe, you'd have to set up an appt. When parents are deciding where to put in choice applications for K, they have set days where the parents can drop in an observe. Our teachers are "master teachers" for our district and are under observation quite a bit...still, they work hard to minimize disruptions. For the early grades in particular, seeing a parent when they're unexpected can really distract the kids.
post #15 of 70
Thread Starter 
I do agree that children experience many disruptions in class thoughout the day. And I agree that a parent dropping in is one of them. But also is one child speaking when the teacher is talking and when the office calls the class to have a child come to the office that annoying phone ring distracts the kids.... or the secretary comming in and every kid wondering "will she ask for me" maybe even instilling fear that someone will have to go to the principles office AHHH. So I don't feel that a parent once in a while dropping in is any major issue. I feel it is the only way to really see what is going on in the class. Unless they want to put in web cams. Its the priciple of the issue. I am not comfortable having my child in a environment where I at any time would be refused to go into.
post #16 of 70
I saw this post on the front page and was intrigued. I work with students of all ages and have always expected and been allowed to visit classrooms unannounced. Prior to Columbine I could just walk into any school where a client attended and observe a classroom. After Columbine security became an issue so I was required to sign in but could still walk to the classroom and observe unannounced. On a few occasions an over zealous secretary would offer to call the classroom and I would ask her not to as I wished to observe what I could before being seen. I have listened outside of classroom doors and heard some really amazing and some quite frankly disturbing things going on in classrooms. What I have observed is that yes it can be a distraction but it does not last long (a minute or 2 at best) and a good teacher can take it in stride. Some really good teachers put me to work. They would hand me a book and say can you read this to this group or can you work with student x on his math, or can you help this group out with their project they are working on... sometimes the group included the student I was there to observe sometimes it was the group next to theirs so I could still observe. I think of those teachers as some of the best I have consulted with.

That being said if my child were in a public or private school, I would expect and actually demand that I be allowed to observe when I wanted to. Because even if every parent turned up, every day (which of course, we know they won't) a good teacher can not only handle the distraction they will capitalize on it. Think of all the helping hands they would have if they did. Obviously, times are changing and in some areas schools require background checks prior to your being allowed to volunteer. So I'd see if that was a requirement and have it done.

Call me paranoid but I would wonder what the teacher didn't want me to see if they balked at unannounced visits. Because like I said I have observed and overheard (when standing unseen outside a door) some very abusive behavior going on in even special needs classrooms. I think you have a right to be able to stop in, but make yourself useful when you do. Teachers have confided in me that the thing they really dislike are parents they never hear from. So make yourself known. Pick up your child occasionally so you can touch base with the teacher at the end of the day. Help her straighten up the room while you chat about your child etc... go during recess and help her watch the class. Ask if there is anything you can do to help out. Make yourself welcome in the classroom and everyone will benefit not just your child. Your mileage may vary.
post #17 of 70
As a high school teacher, I do not allow drop-ins in my classroom. They are disruptive. I do allow parents to visit and observe, even with no notice provided that they check in with the office and show up during the passing period. I do not allow parents or anyone else to call students on cell phones in the middle of my class period so why would I allow them to physically drop-in?
post #18 of 70
Our school is very, very heavy on parent participating (it's required), so I see parents in and out of the classrooms all day. Last year I never ONCE stopped to check in with the office, sign the visitor/classroom helper log, and get a badge. I literally kept a badge in my car because I was in the classrom *SO* much! DD's teacher needed the help and being a SAHM with a child who just started kindy, I was GLAD to be in there so much!

With that being said, this year is a whole different ballgame. DD2 started kindy this year and I needed to take her glasses to her and did it during her recess break. Of course she started in with the "Mommy, don't leave" and it became a MAJOR scene. Right about that time the secretary walked up to me and during the convo she said, "That's what we are here for! Just drop them off in the office and we will get them to her." She said it in a nice way and was trying to be helpful (I'm sure she could see the distress on my face!) and I had to laugh because I told her that it had never occurred to me to take something to the office!!

I guess to answer your question, I would be very upset if they told me I wasn't allowed to just pop in to my child's class, but I can understand the disruption. I joke around and say that every time I go into one of my children's class I feel like Norm from Cheers! All the kids flock to me and immediately want to show me what they are working on. It's a Montessori school, so they have a 2.5 hour work period where they are up and moving around, so even though there is that initial bum-rush to the Mommy in the classroom, they quickly settle back in to what they are doing when I say, "Show me what you're working on!"

I think you should be able to pop in the classroom anytime you want. Is it possible to be a classroom volunteer a couple days a week?
post #19 of 70
Yes, I agree with those that say volunteer in the classroom. I'm pretty sure parents are allowed to drop in anytime at my DS's school (elementary). I do drop in on days I volunteer in the library (I help out with the kindy class, and my son is in 1st grade). The students aren't distracted by me much because I volunteer twice a week in the classroom as well. They know me, and so does the teacher, so it's not a big deal. I do, however, try to drop in during recess so I'm not taking time from a lesson. It's helpful to know your child's schedule (when they have recess, PE, music, computers, etc.) so you don't disrupt a lesson.
post #20 of 70
In our district, parents can observe classrooms but they have to set it up ahead of time. If you bring anything (lunch, coat) to the schools, you leave it at the office. If you pick your child up early, you wait for them in the office. This has not been an issue for me, personally. I think that parents dropping in would disrupt the class and also I would worry about who these parents were because in some cases you could have dangerous people in the classrooms.
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