Parents told to 'back off' and stop sending so many e-mails to their kids' teachers
During those long, desperate days of lockdowns and school closures and SeeSaw passwords and Mathletics questions none of us could seem to figure out, my solution when I was stuck was to e-mail either of my children's teachers.
This, I figured, was the only way to find out what they really should be doing this week in homework, how the heck I was going to approach that maths question and which pages was it they should be reading in Irish again...?
And I don't know about how things went down at other schools, but at our lovely primary school her in South Dublin, the teachers were pretty much on hand for support as we collectively struggled through.
However, now, homeschooling is behind us, and the teachers have once more taken over our kids' education (thank God). But – says teachers – it seems we all got so used to being able to pop an e-mail or message to them during homeschooling, they are now finding themselves inundated with questions and requests from parents around the clock.
In fact, in the UK, unions had to step up and tell parents to 'back off' after teachers admitted to being 'bombarded' by round-the-clock ‘urgent’ requests.
'Bombarding’ teachers with messages
At a recent conference, the NASUWT teaching union explained parents are ‘bombarding’ teachers with messages via email and apps, something that was only ever encouraged during the pandemic (when schools were closed and social contact was limited).
Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the union, was keen to remind parents that teachers have the right to ‘disconnect’ at the end of the working day and called for parents to manage their expectations as to when they would be able to expect a reply from teachers after contacting them.
Teacher Sharon Bishop told a panel that ‘parents and students now feel they can access teachers 24 hours a day, seven days a week’.
‘Since the pandemic, many of us have been told to download apps to our phones, and parents and students have got into the habit of firing off emails 24/7 with the banal, bizarre, and sometimes more worryingly, aggressive and accusatory messages," Bishop revealed.
‘Working hours and parameters have been blurred since the pandemic.’
She added that teachers were often coming home to phone calls and emails ‘until all hours’, and that this was having a detrimental effect on teachers’ mental health, while other teachers were acting as counsellors to their colleagues.
‘The fallout of this has been massive. For many people, it’s almost like a secondary post-traumatic reaction.’
Other teachers, it was revealed, have changed jobs or left the profession altogether because of the pressures they were under.
Roach added that some schools expected teachers to respond quickly to queries, to avoid parents ‘rocking up the following morning’ with complaints, but that parents, too, should shoulder some of the blame.
How do YOU contact your children's school?