Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Coerced Appreciation

The director at J's daycare had organized a teacher appreciation day today. About two weeks ago I saw a sign-up sheet pasted to the door of J's class requesting parents to bring in some food for a teacher's luncheon. It remained pristine and unsigned for a week. She then set it at the front desk where parents clock in and out. Nothing changed. Two days ago, Ms P was on the edge of despair. She accosted parents on their way in and out and cajoled them to sign up to bring in something.

Yesterday was my turn. There were quite a few names and a variety of food as well - there was clearly no need for more. She seemed determined not to let anyone off the hook. I was running late for work already and would have said anything to be able to leave. I had committed to mashed potatoes and forgot all about it as soon as I was out the door. This morning, I showed up empty handed. There was silent reproach, but no questions were asked.

On the way to work I wondered if Ms P had not come out a little too strong in enlisting support from the obviously unwilling parents. Appreciation should be generous, heartfelt and spontaneous and not coerced. She expected us to spend an hour with the children at nap-time so the teachers could enjoy their lunch - a fairly odd if not inconsiderate request.

I remember the time when the old director had put up a colorful poster in the room with a request to the parents to write something in appreciation of the teachers. On day two, I had to struggle hard to find space for my two cents. The response was overwhelming. The teachers were genuinely touched and left us individual thank you notes.

Ms P has successfully soured a perfectly harmonious relationship between the parents and the teachers.

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