Many of our parents do a great job of planning and letting us know about conflicts far enough ahead that we can work out resolutions. We look at possible alternatives and work out solutions that benefit everyone. However, we have a growing number of parents who are not communicating with us in a way that makes solutions possible...and it is hurting those who are doing the right things...
The community at large expects us (the teachers) to communicate things far in advance. In January, we are getting requests for marching band camp dates for summer (they are already on the calendar by the way...). We put the entire year's band activities on the calendar in July/August. We give out all assignments, projects, etc. on the first day of the semester. When we travel, we put out information months and even years in advance. We constantly update the calendar(s) if anything changes.
To reinforce communication, we use this website, we e-mail newsletters home, we give handouts in class, we discuss activities at PBPA meetings, we send out e-mail blasts, we use Remind text service, and we do verbal announcements in class.
Our frustration occurs when we have a scheduled activity (be it a practice, a concert, a trip, etc) and we get absence requests less than 24 hours in advance. We have asked for a minimum 2 weeks notice of absences...yet the bulk of the emails come in at the last minute. The ironic thing is that many of these state that the other activity that is in conflict was "planned months ago" or "before we knew the band schedule".
If you schedule something in August and we put out our calendar in August...then the time to communicate the conflict is AUGUST.....not in DECEMBER! Why wait all those months and then dump the conflict in our lap 24 hours ahead? It makes our job impossible. We can't work out any resolution when we find out so late.
We also get the notes that assure us that little "Pookie" will practice their parts outside of the scheduled rehearsal to "make up" for it. How do you work on playing in tune with your section when you are practicing alone? How do you match the volume and articulation style to the rest of the band when you are by yourself? Performing in an ensemble is NOTHING like learning a vocabulary list for a test or solving math problems. Ours is an interactive activity. Every student directly affects every other student and impacts their success.
All we ask is the same degree of advance communication that is expected of us. I can't begin to imagine the level of frustration from parents if we waited and announced every one of our events 24 hours ahead...."Oh, by the way....there's a concert tomorrow night...drop everything and be there". Or how about "All State tryouts are tomorrow...we didn't tell you about it before, but hope you're ready". It would be chaos.
Please help us to be able to use our time efficiently by working out conflicts in advance and communicating well before the event is scheduled. Read the newsletters and emails. We can send out tons of info...but if you don't read it, you won't know what is happening. Yes, we're all busy. The band directors average 200 emails daily...and most of our responses occur within 24-48 hours. It's not always easy, but in order to minimize conflict and to avoid holding back those who are ready to improve, we need tob e able to resolve schedule conflicts in advance.