Whenever I go into a school office I am always impressed by the variability I experience with the office staff.
Some staff are gracious, while other are cautious and downright un-friendly. It doesn’t seem to matter whether or not the school is located in a poor, middle class or affluent area of town.
I spoke with a parent in a workshop we were conducting in Dallas, Texas a couple of years ago. She was upset that she had difficulty getting the attention of the office staff. This got to the point that she removed here child from the school and found another.
What could have made the difference?
In a word …Training
The schools administrator sets the tone for more than academics and discipline in the school. She needs to set in place, through deliberate action, the policies and guidelines for the manner in which office staff and teaching staff greet parents and community when they arrive at the school office.
A customer service training workshop for staff should be offered every year.
The training program should focus on:
1. The school mission
2. School policy
3. Proper ways to greet the visitor
4. How to handle upset parents
The thoughtful school administrator will consider the office environment if they want to encourage parent involvement in schools.
She should do everything possible to make the environment ” parent-friendly”. A comfortable place to sit (not student desks) as I have seen in some places!
Yes, parents should even be offered coffee or tea.
In this era of accountability, When No Child left Behind mandates new policy for parent involvement, our school offices and staff need to be held accountable for taking care of our customers – our parents, community and students.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS Dr. Chuck and Su Amodeo are the authors of “Reaching the Hardest to Involve Parents” teacher/parent training manual.