Married to Michael and Mother of Jake 9, Jillianne 7, Jensen 5, Jacen 4. I've got severe osteoporosis, a fractured hip and chronic pain-so please be patient with me! Pagan,Crocheter,Reader,Homeschooler- that's me in a nutshell.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I think no matter who comes to the classroom (the principal, secretary or a parent) it's disruptive.
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.
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.
but everything has pros and cons
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.
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.
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?
May be posting about that and getting some feedback would be helpful.
but everything has pros and cons
Ds' old ps had visitors sign in at the desk. I think the official policy was that lunches and such were left at the office, but if you really wanted to do it personally, you could. This school also used parent volunteers, but they were "regulars" and not different parents dropping in for two minutes at random times. I think the latter can be disruptive. Parents could sit in the lunchroom without notice.
At ds' new school we are supposed to give notice to visit for lunch. Ds is sensitive to disruptions in his routine so I haven't done it this year.
I would be really disturbed at a policy that strictly forbade me visiting the classroom unannounced, but that said, even if you suspect not so great teaching or student/ teaching interactions, I would recommend scheduling times to go observe rather than just popping in with this intent. Many teachers get very, very nervous when other adults are in the room, and to me it is a matter of respect to give them a heads up. I supervise student teachers, and I can assure you, a poor teacher is not that way because she chooses to be, and she isn't going to transform and do everything right while you're there at a scheduled time, only to fall apart once you leave. You'll see what you need to see announced or otherwise, and letting her know ahead of time reduces the chance that an adverserial relationship will develop.
I know that it was tough for me not to know every aspect of what was going on at school in the beginning.
It also keeps extra people out of the school.
They wait until the bell rings for lunch to send the lunch down, it is usually a EA that does it.
now we can go into the schools for other reasons & all we have to do is sign in at the office. If we are helping with hot lunch, going to assembly & stuff like that we don't have to sign in.