Home » parenting » Parenting, Community Building, and Email

Parenting, Community Building, and Email

I never thought I’d post about something as mundane as trying to get birthday invites to my elementary aged daughter’s friends. Previously she was enrolled at a private school and not only did we have an online family directory, but we also had class representatives who collated a parents’ email, address, and phone list. This made birthday or play date invites extremely easy. This also allowed for socializing among the families–yes, for community building and did so in a way that many of us appreciated. We could email and connect or choose to call and coordinate.

I have booked my daughter’s birthday party and given that she’s two months into a new public school I thought that I should find out what the protocol is for birthday invites. Actually, I walked into the office assuming that I would get the contact information for the classroom parents or an email for the class representative. Well, I could not even get the teacher’s email. Nope. This violates privacy laws in the province, allegedly. No information about the child can be disseminated via email. Whether or not this is true is not my bone of contention. The fact that in 2013 I could not get the work email for my child’s teacher was absolutely ridiculous. I was politely told that my daughter can distribute the invites at lunch or recess. This is a great exercise for kids to see who is invited and not invited. Big sigh. The e-vites allows for no paper waste.

The staff suggested that I speak with the teacher to see what she prefers. So, off we trundled down the hall. I spoke with the teacher and she would not give her email. She asked if I could just come in. I explained that I am always near a device, so that email is convenient. I received another polite smile and was told that she’s happy to meet with me prior to school. I’ll have to be happy with that. Apparently, she does not check her email often–and that’s fine. But, I’m still shocked. I inquired about the birthday invites and was again informed that my daughter will need to hand them out during recess or lunch.

I might sound like one of those self-entitled parents who demands that the system works her way, but I’m not sure if that is the case here. My concern is three-fold: ease of communication, access to information (emails) to set up play dates or arrange a pick up swap, and understanding that it’s 2013 and technology is pervasive. So, slap my rear and call me Betsy, because I was shocked with my findings today. Seriously, I have to go old school and have my kiddo pass out invites. This also means that I have to meet the other parents so that we can actually become part of this new community. I have some “let’s arrange a play date” note cards that I can finally use. The good news is that I’m going to be more outgoing at drop off and pick up to meet other parents. I’ll roll with it.

My second to last concern is that the kiddo is not inviting the entire class, so the chances are that some kid will have her or his feelings hurt. We have a set limit for the party and we are inviting a mix of kids from the old school and new school. Thankfully, I can use an e-vite for the kids from the old school. Regarding the hurt feelings, well that’s part of growing up–I know. I will have a chat with the kiddo about how to do this as discreetly as possible. And, my last concern, I’m still troubled by the fact that the nuclear codes were not made available to me as a parent– I don’t have the teacher’s email address. An email address is something so basic in my world as an educator. But, then again, maybe the teacher is drawing boundaries and really prefers only face to face interaction. At this point in time, I’m expressing my surprise via the blog post, but I’m not about to write the school board. This is not official complaint worthy. Thoughts?

Adding–of course–I googled the teacher. Her email was not found and she is off the grid. Boundaries, time management or teaching philosophy…

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12 thoughts on “Parenting, Community Building, and Email

    • Agree! I was probably most frustrated with the way the request was treated. Then, after I thought about it more realize that this is her or the school’s decision. I will have to wrap my head around it. But, my daughter is not looking forward to passing out invites to only some kids.

  1. My guess would be that the decision not to provide an email address is to protect the teacher from overinvolved parents by forcing all parents to invest time and effort in order to interact with her. I can see where she is coming from, but still iritating as anything. Personally, I would just find her email address (not hard) and use it responsibly.

    • Dear Erik: Thanks for reading my post. I probably should have said that the first thing I did when I got to work: I Googled her and she is off the grid completely. The only hit for her was on Spelling City for the spelling words. No email found there, either.

  2. PLEASE tell me that in the RSVP at the bottom of the card you’re going to write an e-mail address! 😉
    What boggles my mind is that a person, who influences those human beings who will be living in a more technology driven society than us one day, is so reluctant to such a basic addition to the way we communicate.
    Thanks for the interesting read, Janni! I hope the invite-giving goes well!

  3. Dear Nikki: I actually typed up her/our info and taped it to the invite. A “here is how you can get in contact with us.” The teacher liked it and said that I’m organized. And, yes, I included my email and cell. 😀

    The invite passing out will either be later this week or next Mon. Fingers crossed. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. I’m absolutely shocked to hear a teacher doesn’t provide an email or form of contact to parents. Children are spending 1/3 of their time with teachers, it should be a mutually open relationship. Everyone is overwhelmed these days but it’s up to us how we manage the contact and connections; – I would demand that a formal method of contact be available. You would also think a more welcoming approach / attitude would be extended to a newer student; – inviting little ones to a birthday party is kind of a smaller version of community building too…

    • Oh, Angela. You read my mind. Given that we are new to the school I was left with a bad taste in my mouth. And, sure enough with the paper invites we have heard from few families via the e-invites everyone sent regrets or RSVPs within days. However, I must say that the teacher is great with morning chats. I am going to continue to contact her that way.

  5. Do elementary schools still give out contact lists with phone numbers for the entire class? I remember I always got one with each new school year – but elementary school is quite a while back now…

  6. I am stunned. In our California school district every single teacher and school personnel has an email address that is first letter of first name followed by last name – so easy! And I email teachers all the time and they respond same day, usually pretty fast. This is the norm.
    There is also a school directory, I have not received a single paper evite since being here. In fact I am just about to send out my own invitations!
    I despise the suggestion that they be handed out on the playground. In fact I think there should be a rule that this is not done, ever. In other schools I have been in that has been forbidden.
    Good luck! I like that you have found a positive way to view this re meeting new families and hopefully your daughter is enjoying her new school despite their luddite tendencies.

    • Thanks for reading and your comments, Michelle. Yes, I was stunned. I stood in the office thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” I also felt a sense of–this is not welcoming us into the school. I had to pause and explain the reason for my request and that didn’t make it easier. I also don’t like that they are wrong about the BC Provincial Privacy Act/Law. And, the educator in me wanted to ask for the exact policy, but we are new to the school community and haven’t even had a report card sent home, yet.

      I agree–not happy that kiddo had to hand out invites during lunch recess. And, of course, I have had few RSVPs from the paper invites. All of the evites RSVPd within 2 days of the evite email. It’s hard to realize that some see the technology as something not to use. Mind you–there are many anti-wifi parents in the school district, too. Yes, I’m not joking.

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