The Old School Code of Silence
You are in fifth grade. The last bell rings, and as your herd is trampling into the hall, YOUR MOM suddenly appears right there at Mrs. Harper’s classroom door. Oh, the sheer panic, as you murmur Why is SHE here, but let’s be honest, you already know what you did, and now you are busted.
As the crowd sweeps you out, they step in and the door closes loudly behind them. It’s just you and the pit in your stomach, standing there in the hall. You stare at the tall, skinny glass in the door: your 100-year-old teacher and your tired-looking mom are nodding in unison, probably agreeing on what a hopeless case you are. You strain to listen, but you can only make out indistinct sounds.
Did Mrs. Harper just say report’s due or reform school?
Oh, now they are smiling and nodding. The mood has shifted, and it sounds like your mom may be telling that embarrassing story about that one time when you ate cat food, and they are laughing- laughing! Your guilt and your secrets now lay dumped out on the linoleum under the florescent lights, and you know you will remember this day forever.
Then, the door opens, and you are startled by it. Of course, they both say they are “very disappointed,” but they are sure you will do better next time.
And that’s the way it was when teachers and parents communicated.
Despite the fact that my parents routinely locked me out of the house to roam an entire town on my bike all summer (no judging, that’s just how they did it back then), I think that my parents really did care about my education. I mean, of course they cared.
Still, I have almost zero memories of my parents and my teachers meeting in person, Further, I have 100% confidence that exactly zero of my teachers were picking up a rotary phone to chat up my parents about molding me into the person I am today.
Texting on these is just the worst.
I was a good kid, rarely in trouble, a hardcore people pleaser with a solid B average. That said, I and many kids like me lived in mortal fear of parent-teacher conversations in any format or location.
Kids were once ruled by a strict Code of Silence, an unwritten parent-teacher communication policy which went something like this: If any of your teachers ever, ever calls this house, you had better be a) getting an award for model citizenship or b) on your deathbed. Of course, the unfortunate downside of The Code was that parents and teachers never had all the information, and kids had issues that went unrecognized and unaddressed.
Now, it’s totally different: teachers wear running shoes and go to workshops about helping children self-actualize. Teachers are engaged and proactive, and administrators encourage them to build relationships with parents. In some schools, each kid carries a spiral planner where parents and teachers to stay in touch, and teachers are encouraged to send a written card to students during the year.
Who knew Mrs. Harper was a yogi?
School expectations vary when it comes to how much parent contact teachers need to make, yet experienced teachers know to notify parents before an issue builds and keep careful notes in support of the child’s progress.
It’s like we all know now what nobody could figure out way back when: communication is an important part- maybe the most important part- of an education strategy. Teachers know that effective parental communication is vital to successful educational outcomes. Establishing that connection is critical to the learning process.