Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"Vhare are your papers?"

It is spring break, and the visits from alumni have begun.  It's not unusual -- it's happened for years.  But this year -- this post-Sandusky-so-we-need-to-suspect-everyone-new-normal -- now requires that anyone entering the school building either have $50 worth of clearances paid for, on file, and approved by the school board prior to being granted entrance into the building OR must be escorted from the main office to their destination - and back to the office at the end of the visit.  

It's tough for kids who were sitting in the very cafeteria with their friends, many of whom are still sitting in the cafeteria on the other side of the windows, to understand why they are no longer welcome, and are treated as if they are guilty until proven innocent.

It's tough for the teachers as well.  As much as we love to hear about their successes at college, and have them visit our classes to share stories from "the other side" of high school graduation, we all feel very sad that we have to provide the chaperone services for our visitors, and can't allow our visitors to "just run upstairs to see Mr......" without having both a chaperone and a phone call announcing the arrival of the visitor.

There are no "pop in" surprises any longer.  Heck, it could actually trigger a whole school lockdown.

Glad to be the "older teacher"...

The fine line between relationships and relationships in education is actually not that fine.  In fact, it's pretty much a cinderblock wall these days, with accusations and questions of impropriety of student-teacher interactions.  Is it appropriate for teachers to be friends with students on social media?  Why shouldn't teachers be able to tweet information relative to homework, sports practices, or other material that might increase student success?  Is it inappropriate for students to have teachers' cellphone or home phone numbers?  How much contact (for academic and sports/clubs purposes is too much?

As I've stated before, I'm not 25.  There is not a single student who would misconstrue any gesture of compassion or concern on my part as anything more than genuine compassion or maternal instinct.  As much as I despise the aches, pains, and wrinkles, I celebrate not having to worry about this particular aspect of student-teacher relationships.  I also work with a population of students that I trust with the contact information.  (Heck, last week, kids that showed up at my house were doing so to work on projects during a snowstorm, collect letters of recommendation, and deliver Girl Scout cookies.  No one was tossing eggs or toilet paper.)

A younger teacher in my district had something that needed to be delivered to the home of a teenage boy.  There aren't guidelines in our district for something like this, but to assist in avoiding any suggestion of impropriety, I followed her to his house to witness the delivery of the necessary materials.  Well worth the peace of mind of all involved, even if it seems a bit silly that a professional could potentially be accused of anything in broad daylight, knocking on a door and handing materials to outstretched hands.

So how do we encourage relationships, while assuring society that we aren't encouraging relationships?   Edutopia's Stacy Goodman had some really valid suggestions this week in her article.

I'm curious what the officials charging $50+ are doing with the influx of new cash, as it appears that our society will, very soon, require official papers and fingerprints for everyone. 
Let's just hope we don't all require lanyards with credentials, 24/7.

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