As embarrassing and humiliating as it is funny, I am sharing this with the hope my wisdom will keep you from making the same mistakes I did. Enjoy and feel free to sling mud at me, I am ready and waiting.
I signed up, in addition to being a Room Mom, to handle the Scholastic Book orders for Tucker’s First grade class. How hard could it be? Well, apparently it is not that hard as long as you know what you’re doing and have all the information.
Details, people, details!
Armed with what I thought was what I needed and no instructions, I sorted the paper catalogs, included a cover note with a deadline and distributed it all in the kids folders to bring home.
I got two orders back. This would turn out to be a good thing.
I firmly believe that as a Mom, we are kind of screwed from day one. I think there is an unspoken cultural belief that when you become ”MOM’ you suddenly possess a degree in doing this stuff. That we’re expected to possess vast amounts of instinctual knowledge and until we show ourselves to be incompetent, like I did, you are considered a highly valued, indispensable cog in the classroom machine.
Here’s the reality:
Hello! My name is Jennifer and I’m your Room Mom. While you think I am here to make your job easier, I will end up totally screwing it all up (unintentionally, of course!) and then have to beg for your forgiveness. You love me, don’t you?
I got an email from Tucker’s teacher that the books had arrived and she needed to know who the books went to. This was perplexing. What do you mean? Wasn’t there a packing list indicating who the books go to? What kind of system is this? How am I supposed to know? I was just the intermediary. I just sent in the orders. Right?
The shipments arrive with no itemized packing list by customer, just a list of the books in the box. I had no record of who ordered what. A call to Scholastic Books confirmed that they could not assist me since they do not keep records of who orders the books. Record keeping was my responsibility.
Left with no other option, I sent an email to all the class parents confessing my stupidity, that I did it all wrong and could the two families who ordered books reply to me ASAP in book order hell. Not exactly written like that, but that sums is up.
So, after confessing the errors of my ways to a teacher friend, and after she got a good belly laugh at my failure, she kindly educated me on ordering protocol. If only someone had pointed out these ‘minor’ details to me from the get go.
How to order Scholastic Books Correctly:
1. Don’t volunteer in the first place.
1. The glossy cover pages that you’ll have to remove to get the order forms apart has the master order form on the back on a fold out page.
2. Fill out the master order form using the order forms that the parents fill out and return to you with the checks.
3. KEEP the order forms that the parents fill out.
4. Mail the master order form with checks, KEEPING the parent’s order forms!
5. When the books arrive, use the parent’s order forms to sort through the books and distribute them accordingly. FYI: no packing list exists so you better have the original order forms!
How to order Scholastic Books so that all the parents will think you are incompetent and will now write personal notes on their orders saying that they’re keeping a record at home of what they ordered:
1. Assume that the materials you were given are complete.
2. Fail to possess the intuitive knowledge that the cover page/master order form exists.
3. Take the parent’s order forms and checks and mail off in provided envelope.
4. Wonder why the books did not arrive with detailed packing list.
5. Tell teacher you have no idea who ordered what… Was I supposed to keep a record of all that?
6. Send out plea for help to class parents confessing your errors, that you didn’t know better and begging for forgiveness.
7. Smile when teacher says that she is sorry and admits that she should have told you what to do since you had told her you had never done this before.
Good Luck and don’t say I didn’t warn you!
You are not alone! Scholastic Books is a full time job! As a teacher, I once mailed a gigantic order, the envelope failed to remain sealed, and all of the checks came out all over the post office. Long story short, parents had to cancel various checks, and I used bonus points to reorder the entire thing (nearly every child of a 22-student class had ordered that month)! Holy cow.
I’m sure your advice is valuable in many hands!
Debbie (Karen’s sister)
That whole Book ordering thing was crazy, wasn’t it? I had a lot of problems too. Don’t feel bad. I swear I got books I didn’t order but will never know!
LOL Too funny! I would have made the same mistake and I work in a school!
LOL! I have made *exactly* the same mistake before! Life is so hard when you are a serial volunteer, isn’t it? We should form an anonymous “help me” club.