Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fed up.

I love my job. I really do. I rarely complain about the little things that piss me off, because the good usually outweighs the bad. But tonight it just went too far.

Our school has been holding a Family Reading Night once a month since February. It came about because a parent requested that we have "fun things" for the parents and kids to do together. (It should be noted that this particular parent hasn't shown up for any of the three Family Reading Nights we've hosted. Nor the spaghetti dinner we held for Catholic School's Week. Nor the Beef and Beer fundraiser we had last Saturday.)

We had a modest turn out for February's Family Reading Night - about ten students and their parents. March's Dr. Seuss themed night turned out about twenty kids and their parents. So hopes were high for April's installment. We planned to read books about insects by author/illustrator Eric Carle (of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" fame) and follow it up by making creepy crawly snacks... ants on a log (cream cheese spread on a celery stick topped with raisins), dirt & worms (chocolate pudding and crushed Oreos with gummy worms) and so forth.

I hyped it up all week with my first graders. I put the event on our homework sheet and on our website. It was listed on our school calendar. The principal sent an invitation to all students in kindergarten through fourth grade. She bought ingredients for four different snacks and I spent last night typing up the recipes for the treats so the kids could make a "cookbook" after hearing the stories.

Two children showed up. Two.

You know how many teachers were there? Six. The principal, the reading specialist, the librarian, and the teachers from first, second and third grade.

But that's not even why I'm pissed. I actually had fun with the two second grade girls who came. They were both in my class last year, and they were really excited about making the cookbook and the bug treats.

No, I'm pissed about something that one of the parents said to our second grade teacher. She said, "Did you ever consider having this on a weekend? The parents work all day and they're tired on weeknights." Miss W replied, "We've been here since 7:30 this morning, and we haven't been home yet." What does this mother think we do all day? I spend 7 hours a day with 23 six-year-olds... I'm exhausted by 3 PM. THEN the mother said, "If you did this on a Saturday, you'd get a lot more parents." Oh really? Last weekend we had a Beef and Beer fundraiser... about 40 people came. Five of them were parents. The rest were faculty, and family and friends of faculty. We hold a Family Unity Mass three Saturdays a year (with food afterwards)... I think 2 families from my classroom came to the last one. We sold tickets for a Saturday night Philadelphia Soul game. About 10 families bought tickets. I'm not sure what else the school can do to encourage parent participation. It was so sad to see the teachers standing around the school hall tonight... tables set with ingredients for the snacks, books piled and ready to be read... and no kids.

So now I'm just fed up with the whole damn thing. I was so disgusted by the apathy on the part of the parents, and by their misconception of what our job entails, that I actually cried on the way home. It was partially out of frustration and disgust, and partially out of exhaustion.

Maybe I'm partially to blame. Maybe I volunteer too much. Every Thursday after school I teach CCD for an hour. So today I got to work at 7:30 AM, taught from 8:00-2:30, taught CCD from 3:30-4:30, grabbed a quick dinner at Wendy's with Miss W (because there wasn't enough time for either of us to go home between CCD and Family Reading Night), and then started setting up for Family Reading Night at 6:00. When it was over, we stayed and helped clean up. We left work at 8:00, and I got home at 8:30. That's a 12 1/2 hour day. I ate all three meals in that building today. And I don't get paid overtime.

I don't know what to do about it anymore. I think we've done all we can do as a school to reach out to parents. The rest is up to them.

No comments: