Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Where to begin....

I have a small confession to make - I have the tiniest problem of over-committing and also the need to knock the socks off any project or assignment that's given to me. The result of this would be after seven years of volunteering at school, my husband goes running in the other direction or can be found rocking in the corner of the house yelling "No, NO" over and over again when the terms room mom, PTA or fundraiser is brought up. Lucky for my friends (and hopefully you) I've become a pretty decent resource at classroom parties & activities, auction project ideas, the "how to schmooze your teacher after your child has made them want to pull their hair out because they don't make enough money for this crap" ideas, and the "I want my teacher to love it so much they'll cry" ideas (although I strongly suggest that you are giving some sort of cash along with these gifts if you really want your teacher to love you and your child).

Let me first say my mother was a teacher for over a decade, her best friend taught (and is still teaching) for over 20 years, almost everyone in my husband's family is (or is studying to be) a teacher and I have a kick butt friend at the best university in existence who sends me the coolest, cheapest gift ideas. While God didn't grant me the patience or gifts for the teaching profession I have a unique perspective on teachers' needs when it comes to classroom help. I also have some unbelievable stories that leave most parents gasping and most teachers nodding their head saying "yes, that actually does happen"! The first step to being a room mom is to use common sense, don't think that you are now your teacher's BFF, DON'T use this position to constantly ask questions about your child's progress (that's what SCHEDULED conferences are for) and do NOT create MORE work for your teachers (they have enough and aren't paid enough for what they do have). Your role as room mom is to make the teacher's life easier by organizing parties, projects and activities that are AGE APPROPRIATE and do not ensue chaos in the classroom. Hopefully this blog will be a forum for ideas on how to do this and I'm hoping a place others can share their ideas with me.

SO let me tell you what you most definitely won't find on this blog - anything that has apples, pencils, World's Greatest Teacher, mugs, teacher gifts with your child's handprint or thumbprint... you get the idea. I don't care how cute it may be YOUR TEACHER DOESN'T WANT IT! Save yourself the time and trouble. And while I'm on the subject I am a BIG proponent of cash and gift cards. I always give some sort of creative gift with it but I always give cash or gift cards for occasions and I've never regretted this decision and either has my children's teachers. In fact over the past seven years I've had teachers use the cash/gift cards they've received to purchase dresses to their daughter's wedding, fix their cars that desperately needed it and one who cried at the end of the year because she was going to be able to get her tooth fixed. I'm sorry but in the end every parent sending in $2 for a VISA gift card made all the difference that no hand print apron ever could.

My suggestion for getting started is getting to know your teacher. I start with a Teacher Profile. Preferably you should send this to your teacher at the beginning of the year, but it doesn't matter if it's the middle of the year - it's not to late. Below is the one I use. Feel free to change it or add your own categories, just make sure you adhere to the answers your teacher's give you. My SIL (who's the mother load of ideas for room moms:) had a poor friend last year who kept getting these beautiful, expensive flower arrangements when she specifically said on her Teacher Profile she was allergic. Again, don't be stupid, use the information your teacher spent time giving you and GOOD LUCK!!

Teacher Profile
(Please fill out and return to So & So’s mom)

Full Name:
Family Names (please list spouse, children & pets):

Hobbies or Interests:
Favorite Store(s):
Favorite Restaurant(s):
Favorite Flower:
Favorite Candy:
Favorite Drink/Soda:
Favorite Snack(s):
Favorite Cake:
Favorite Color:
Anniversary of becoming a teacher:
Anniversary of teaching at this school:

What projects, programs or special events can I assist with this year?

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