Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesian 4:15
With technology advancing at the speed of light and expectations by all increasing exponentially, parents and teachers/administrators have reached a crossroads regarding communication. While there is no doubt that technology has several positive implications, the unprecedented access to information (like the ones described below) plays an enormous part in feeding the helicopter parent phenomena. How that information is handled and communicated determines the difference between a team effort among teachers and parents or a confrontational us versus them approach.
Access to internet–While there definitely is solid, valid, thought-provoking information always at the press of a button, that knowledge can feed a helicopter parents’ assumption that they always know more than the teachers who are working with their children.
Parent Portals–These allow parents to view their children’s grades at a moments notice. It is basically an online gradebook where teachers must input each students’ grades in a timely manner. While this is a wonderful way for parents to stay informed, it reduces a child’s learning to just a grade or an end product; and it makes it easy for a parent to forget that their child is going through a learning process.
Email–This is, of course, an amazing tool for communication. HOWEVER—I am always baffled with the irony that this amazing form of communication can create so much miscommunication, and it can greatly damage the trust that is built between a teacher and a parent when misused. Without going into my own vault of examples, please suffice it to say that helicopter parents can be extremely quick to spout off emails hammering a teacher for things of which their own children should be accountable.
Cell phones–Just the other day I was listening to Tim Elmore, the author of Generation iY, Our Last Chance to Save their Future, share an anecdote that perfectly describes the plight of cell phones and helicopter parents. He explained how a college professor handed back some graded papers to his students. One student received a C+ on her paper. This was the first C she had ever received in her entire school career. The young lady pulled out her cell phone and sent a text to her mother. Her mother texted back saying, “Call me immediately.” So in the middle of the COLLEGE classroom in front of all her classmates and her COLLEGE professor, she called her mom and then proceeded to hand the phone over to her professor! I’m speechless…….Although I will say that Generation iY, Our Last Chance to Save their Future is at the top of my reading list now!
Instant access to information for teachers and parents alike can promote a stronger relationship that ultimately benefits our children; yet, it can also foster quick decisions and impulsive communication that can hinder the trust that is at the core of any strong relationship. It is up to us, the adults, to decide to work together in the most productive way. We must not forget that all this wonderful technology does not dismiss the importance of respectful and meaningful communication. The old adage, “It’s not what you say, but HOW you say it,” carries a lot of weight these days.