Our school district has recently adopted an online registration procedure. It is super simple and totally convenient for all parties involved. In past years we've dealt with the consistent problem of families being on vacations during the designated registration periods. Being unable to add them to the count until they return from Disney has the potential to impact hiring/recall of teachers who are anxious begin preparing for school. Online registration essentially solves this headache. It saves secretaries tons of data entry, and it is also far more 'green' as we are making less copies and printing less documents. Everyone wins right?
Perhaps. But as I go through registration, which now consists of only unique cases (families without computer access, residency question marks, second language families who need translation, etc.) being 'in person,' something feels missing. Ultimately, it's the same thing we've given up in nearly every area we've moved to Internet based- relationships.
I miss seeing all the children and their families come in after being separated for months. The look of excitement on the children's faces reminds me of why I entered the profession. I got to catch up with parents and hear their hopes and concerns for the new school year. I got hear about little league games and swim meets. We got to know and create an immediate personal connection with new families and students. But no longer. It was a ritual coming back together for our school, and now it's gone.
I get it. It's 2014. Hell, we're probably way late to the game on this one. We'd look disorganized and out of touch with time if we continued to force families to stand in a slow line to accomplish what they could do in minutes from the comfort of their home. Many parents (sadly) have no interest in having a relationship with me or anyone else at the school.
Still, teaching children is about relationships before all other things. As a profession, we need to constantly evaluate the decisions we make and how they impact our ability to form quality relationships. When we lose something like in-person registration, one of the few times every parent has to come to the school, we need to brain storm alternatives to get that valuable in-person contact. I'd love to hear what other schools are doing to preserve their relationships in the on-line era.