The Class WhatsApp Group: Should You Stay or Should You Go?
In The Juggle, mum-of-one Saoirse experiences the school gates for the first time. To her dismay, The Organics (a group of ‘supermums’) have not only taken over the PTA but they have also monopolised the class WhatsApp Group. Saoirse’s phone pings all the day long thanks to constant messages about matters that have nothing to do with school, and it’s not long before she wonders why on earth she has joined the group at all.
Like Saoirse, I’ve had my moments with class WhatsApp Groups. To be fair, they can be a valuable source of information especially when it comes to reminders about bake sales, school concerts, dress-up days etc.; events that would most likely slip my mind if I only had the school email to rely on. However, that’s exactly what the class WhatsApp group should be for – a forum that is used sparingly to deliver quick messages about upcoming school events. But sometimes, depending on who’s participating, the information can go a little off-topic to say the least and that’s when things go awry.
While it may be tempting to share details of your child’s latest swimming or gymnastics achievement, the reality is that most parents really only care about their own children and probably won’t give you the applause and admiration you’re looking for. Furthermore, it’s always best to stay from controversial topics – if your child is being bullied, take it to the teacher; and if you’re not happy with the teacher, then make an appointment with the Head. Ranting to a class WhatsApp group made up of 60 people, most of whom you don’t know all that well is likely to start a heated debate which will no doubt lead to animosity between members – and nobody wants to deal with that at the school gates.
Speaking of gripes, it’s also best not to turn to the class WhatsApp Group when it comes to ranting about school closures, the government, and lockdown. The same goes for sharing third-hand information and pandemic-related conspiracy theories. Yes, the situation is grim and we’ve all been scrambling to keep it together over the last year, juggling work, homeschool, and meals, not to mention the constant battles over screentime (for the record, I’ve given up on that one) but we’re already living it and if we really want to know more, we can just turn on the news. What we don’t need is constant negative commentary and rumour-mongering all the live-long day.
Although many parents feel obliged to sign up to the class WhatsApp Group, it is not compulsory – we have a choice to join it or leave it. And when it is used for class-related matters, it can be a valuable source of information. During this current lockdown I have benefitted hugely from homeschool tips, links to school resources, and even from the gifs or memes, some of which have brought a much-needed smile to my face. For the moment, I’ll stick with it, but if it starts to stray or blows up for any reason, I will have no hesitation in pressing the ‘Exit Group’ button. Life’s just too short for school politics.
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