i'm not new to public schooling, i had three step-kids in schools. i generally came early to pick them up, and volunteered and observed then. or i'd bring them in and have breakfast with them and do some work for the teacher. this was in the 90's, though. i feel really out of date!
the PTA here is a set of rigidly enclosed women who've had multiple kids in the local system for years. i'm shy anyway, so i'd much rather volunteer more directly.
what does "open door policy" really mean? everyone at my girl's school has to sign in at the office, and has to have a specific reason for being there at that time. i mean, for her birthday party, i signed in, took the cupcakes to her class, had fun for a bit. there wasn't anything the teacher needed that day, so i left. one day when i was near the school, i swung by to see if i could do stuff, cut shapes or whatever. the office lady - the "dragon-lady who rules the school" is the rumor, it's only half-joking though! - had me sign in, but when i said where i was going, she said "they're at the library." literally, she has to buzz each person in ... so, i didn't get to go to the library, because "it would disrupt the class." i wanted to stay until they were done, so i went down to the class. when they came in the teacher and assistants seemed really shocked, somewhat uncomfortable, "no thank you, nothing we need today" and the whole atmosphere felt like "get out of here so we can get back to our normal routine." i mean that literally, the kids could not settle down with a parent in the class, i had to leave before they could resume their schedule, even though my daughter of course ignored me ;)
i've emailed asking when's the best time, the answer is "anytime." when i come in "anytime" it's the worst time. the one parent that was praised for parental involvement during the Sept. orientation was a parent who brought lots of paper towels, wipes, etc. to the school - i found out later she doesn't go in to volunteer. i've asked for volunteer work to be sent home, it's just cutouts, but nothing ever gets sent home.
so, how do i work this? i really want to be an involved parent.