Schools are bureaucracies, and like most bureaucracies they run better without consumers.
Bureaucracies aren't designed to create warm, fuzzy feelings or to create heart felt connections. So there is an ongoing challenge there between engagement, interaction, and connection. We know students learn better when they feel welcomed and part of a school community. As do parents. We want to trust our schools, and the teachers who take care of our children. But there is a problem here...
Schools are bureaucracies. They are complex forms of organisations, they have policies and procedures, legal responsibilities, specialised functions, a system of control and a strict chain of command.
Doesn't scream connection does it...
I say this with a clear sense that teachers generally care for their students and want to help them achieve their best. But notwithstanding this.....
I've heard the saying in quite a few of the organisations (not just schools) I have worked for over the years that everything would run so much better if there were not customers / clients / consumers / students.
As a parent navigating the system I know I've found it difficult over the years to understand the 'chain of command', who to speak to about what, who has the responsibility for what? There are sub schools, home group, care group, well being coordinators, subject coordinators, subject leaders, lead teachers as well as a number of different assistant principles and classroom teachers. And your school may have different labels for teachers.
If we can work through the maze of labels and start developing a working relationship we can develop a trust of sorts.
However, don't lose sight of reality.
In the past I have been caught out when I realised that all the school meetings I had attending were not recorded, there were no official minutes being taken, even though notes were being typed up and verbal commitments made.
Don't make the same mistake as me
Schools are bureaucracies. And in a bureaucracy if it isn't written down, it didn't happen.
Insist on official records of meetings. Take notes when you speak with people at the school. Leave an email trail. Create accountability. Because it can be too easy for the caring to get lost and for those fragile connections to be broken.
About the Author. Kim is a private psychologist who loves working collaboratively both online and in real life with other professionals and is passionate about increasing connection in the community.
ps, As a mum there are many things in this parenting journey that can contribute to overwhelm if you are looking for a step from to help reduce the overwhelm and move towards calm here is a handout that may help . https://mailchi.mp/f009b27939b3/fromoverwhelmtocalmthefirststep
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Dunn is a Child Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds.