Have you tried to talk to an operator these days? One thing is for sure, you need a lot of time and patience, the patience of Job at least. In fact, when the recorded voice starts to speak with that gentle, hypocrite tone of one who pretends to be of help, while, in truth, means only to confound and make you give up, you are well aware that a very long journey is about to begin.
Press 1, press 2, 3,4,5….9, the numerous options are only a way to distract from the only and real object of your search, which they know well to be: a flesh and blood operator. Instead, if you are lucky enough, you may end up attempting to make useless conversation with a virtual dog named Toby, which seems to have been created only with the purpose to make you feel dummy. Yet, we know, we feel, that the flesh and blood operator of our dreams is somewhere there and we keep searching in that labyrinth of Knossos, made up by the alternatives that we are generously given, but no way. Heaven forbids, that you press the wrong number! You’ll find yourself with only two options left: starting again from square 1 or giving up. I often give up, I have to confess.
It is the very same story whenever you need to talk with your bank, insurance, hospital, principal : you always find a wall in the form of a switchboard before you. No need to say, all categories but one: teachers.Teachers are required to be available 24 / 7. We must be ready to inform, listen, reassure, pacify, advise ( even on fashion matters in my case) any time. This happens as the norm that regulates our duties in this matter is ambiguous. It generically says that we must keep the lines of communication with parents open, but they end up to be so open that, eventually, we can be reached through meetings, mail, voice mail, WhatsApp, phone calls, even stalking if necessary; festivity included, of course. If a parent believes to have an urgent need to confer with a teacher, the latter is expected to be at the parent’s disposal.
The point is that since the advent of the electronic register the lines of communications should have been open enough to limit such pressing requests only to extraordinary events. Families would be constantly informed about grades, comments about grades, lesson topics, school attendance, homework, activities and more, if they read the electronic register. But they don’t. In fact, I always have an endless line of people who want to talk to me anyhow.
Hence, I believe there is only a way to put an end to all this : a switchboard for us teachers too, after all, I don’t think we are less deserving than other categories. Once skimmed our agenda from the unnecessary meetings, we should be able to focus only on the situations that really require our attention and effort. I figure it might work like this:
Voice mail: welcome to Mrs Tink’s parent-teacher communication area; if you want to be informed about your son’s grades, press 1.
Mrs Tink’s voice (after pressing 1): Dear parent, check the electronic register.😑
Voice mail: if you want to get information about your son’s school attendance, press 2.
Mrs Tink’s voice( after pressing2): Dear parent, check the electronic register.😑
Voice mail: if you want to get information about course books and syllabus, press 3.
Mrs Tink’s voice (after pressing 3): Dear parent, check the electronic register.😑
Voice mail: if you want to talk about teaching methods, personal experiences and suggestions, press 4.
Mrs Tink’s voice (after pressing 4): Dear parent, you can book an appointment through the electronic register.😑
Voice mail: if you want to book an appointment with Mrs Tink, press 5.
Mrs Tink’s voice (after pressing 5): Dear parent, you can book an appointment with Mrs Tink through the electronic register.😑
Voice mail: if you do really want to talk to Mrs Tink, press 6.
The line goes dead.🤭