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    Joined: Apr 2013
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    I've asked to volunteer, multiple times. Last year, I asked to "observe" DS and they replied that they don't allow parent observations. I'd really like to see what's going on in his class, he complains bitterly and refuses to go some days. What are the magic words here?

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    What?! They won't let you observe his class? What's the district policy? That's crazy. How old is your son?

    I would tell them "my son is frustrated and refusing to go to school some days. I would like to observe the class to see if I can figure out what's going on." They don't respond to a reasonable request? Nuts. Can you pull him out?

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    Your answer is really going to depend on your ds' school policy and school culture. Do you know any other parents who volunteer? If you do, ask them how they went about volunteering - who did they ask, how did they ask, what types of volunteer work are they doing.

    Has your ds' teacher asked parents to help out in the classroom (or outside of class?). If so, have you volunteered to do one of those jobs - that is most likely going to be the easiest and quickest way to get "inside".

    Next thing to do is to look for ways to get to know your ds' teacher better so that she isn't just seeing you as a parent helicoptering. Start simply by just focusing on saying hi to her or offering up some simple chitchat about the weather or whatever if you see her at drop-off and pick-up. Don't make every connection with her be a question about what's happening in the classroom or what's up with your ds etc. Does the class go on field trips or have class events where parents participate? Definitely join in on those - drive on a field trip if you can, it's a great way to get to know some of the other kids in class and to see how your ds is relating to his classmates.

    If your teacher hasn't specifically asked for any type of volunteer help, is there something you can think of that would possibly help both the teacher and class? One thing that our elementary school teachers were usually open to was when a parent wanted to help with support during times like writer's workshop or reading groups etc. I used to help my ds' first grade teacher by coming in one morning each week and giving individual oral sight word and spelling tests to the children. I never worked directly with my ds - I wasn't allowed to. But that was ok - I had a chance to see where the other kids were at, my ds saw me helping, and my work helped cement a good relationship with ds' teacher so that I felt comfortable asking for differentiation for him and she was open to listening to my requests. Later on, when my ds was struggling with written expression in early elementary, I volunteered to be a parent assistant during writer's workshop - I never really helped my ds directly because he didn't want me to help, but it gave me a wonderful opportunity to see the work of his peers which helped me understand better where ds was at - plus it was fun smile

    Another friend was concerned about math differentiation, so she approached her ds' elementary teacher with an offer to spend one day per week during "math hour" teaching challenging math to the top-math students in the class. Another place that our schools have appreciated parent help is during class library time - helping kids pick out books, reading to the kids, just helping maintain chaos. The teachers usually *aren't* in the library with the kids, so you're essentially helping the librarian, but it's a type of help that the teachers appreciate, and it's a way for you to get to know the other children.

    So think outside the box a little bit - is there any kind of thing you can think up where you can help the classroom as a whole or help the teacher in a way that she would appreciate? Something that lets the teacher know you are sincere in wanting to help for more than just a day here or there? Something to give you an edge up on credibility that your wish is to help, and that lets you into the classroom. Most teachers I know through my friendships do not like parents "observing" but they appreciate help.

    Hope that helps a bit!

    polarbear

    ps - what types of things is your ds complaining about? I might be able to come up with something more specific if I knew what issues were of a concern. I'm sorry I don't remember specifically! pb

    Last edited by polarbear; 09/24/13 11:55 AM.
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    they replied that they don't allow parent observations


    And the reason for this prohibition is... what, exactly?



    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.
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    Originally Posted by HowlerKarma
    they replied that they don't allow parent observations


    And the reason for this prohibition is... what, exactly?

    I don't know anything at all about somewhere's school, and fwiw, my kids have (with the exception of one year) gone to schools where the policy was open-door parents are always welcome to come in anytime anyplace and PLEASE help out while you are here lol. But - I also have quite a few friends who are teachers, and for the most part, they don't really welcome those open-door type policies because they see parents as an interruption. One close friend has really struggled with parents who come in, observe, and then try to second guess everything the teacher is doing. For all the teachers and classes and students where it could be helpful or a parent to observe and offer up suggestions, she's also had a lot of parents insert themselves where it just wasn't useful or necessary and it was disruptive.

    I would also consider that every time I've been in one of my kids' early elementary classrooms not actively helping in a very participatory way, but for instance, listening in during circle at the end of the day or sitting while waiting to help kids glue something as part of what I'm assigned to do but I don't really have anyone ready to be helped yet - I'm a distraction. Even if I'm still as a statue and not making a noise - little kids love seeing other parents in the classroom. They look at you, come over and talk to you, lose focus etc. During a big wild everyone's all-over-the-place anyway craft or activity etc - that's ok. During a time when the class is doing quiet desk work or listening to the teacher explain something or introduce a science topic etc - it's a distraction.

    polarbear

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    Yes-- I'm definitely familiar with the parent-as-distraction. (I've been a fly on the wall for almost EVERY thing that my DD has done for many many years, so I'm used to fading into the background very successfully, but I've also noticed that most parents don't have the technique down very well.)

    Anyway-- that's a perfectly legitimate explanation of why a parent can't just come in whenever they please. What I'm wondering is what the rationale is from the OP's school.



    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.
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    Can you send in a third-party observer?

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    separation issues are also an issue for the school with lower elem grades and parent participation

    DeHe

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    Another benefit of a partial magnet in a Title I school: under NCLB my son's school is legally required to allow parental observation and encourage parental involvement.

    I don't suppose that fits your situation, Somewhereonearth?


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    I suppose practices vary. When I was a kid, if a parent had asked if they could observe or volunteer in the classroom, they would have been looked at as if they had just landed from another planet. I had never heard of such a thing until joining this forum.

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