Early in the school year, there’s a powerful proactive strategy we should all consider. Positive phone calls to families give you the chance to build connections and relationships with families that will yield benefits all year long. But is this easier said than done? Maybe not.
Sometimes my students scare me, parents always scare me…and you want me to do what?
This is a thought that many in education have had at one point or another in their careers when they have been asked to communicate with parents. Communicating with parents isn’t always easy, but it also doesn’t have to be scary or hard. Thankfully, I learned this in my first year as a teacher almost two decades ago.
As a new elementary school teacher who (if I’m being honest) had absolutely zero classroom management skills, I quickly realized that the best way to help myself manage my classroom was to build positive relationships with the families of my students.
Thanks to my building principal, Jeni Mosca, who strongly encouraged all teachers to make at least five positive phone calls weekly to families, I was able to gain the support and trust of parents, which ultimately led to having positive relationships with my students.
I remember the first positive phone call I ever made like it was yesterday. I chose to call the parent of a student who had struggled with behavior challenges in the years before they entered my classroom. I picked up my phone and dialed the number. My heart was racing, my palms were sweaty, and I talked much faster than usual.
The conversation went like this, “Hi, Mrs. Marino, this is Jaclyn, Joey’s teacher. I wanted to take a moment to let you know about something great Joey did! Today during indoor recess, I noticed that he did such a great job including his classmates in the game he was playing and encouraging his peers to not give up even if they felt sad that they didn’t win the last round.”
For a moment after I finished praising Joey, Mrs. Marino’s end of the line was silent. I nervously awaited her response, sweat beading up on my face.
It was a few moments later that Mrs. Marino responded saying, “Thank you! Hearing that my son made some great choices today is the best news this mom could have gotten today.”
I could hear the pride in her voice as she fought back tears. This simple message helped changed her perception of what teachers thought of her son.
Although our phone conversation was no more than two minutes in length, it forever changed my life as a teacher. In those two minutes, my perspective on building relationships with parents and students changed. I realized that having positive relationships with families was by far the most important piece of my classroom management. I also realized that it wasn’t as hard as I feared.
From that day on, I made frequent positive phone calls home, especially early in the school year. Thanks to Jeni Mosca and that first phone call to Mrs. Marino, I understood that building relationships with families is something we can all do through many small moments of positive and proactive communication. We all know it “takes a village” to raise a child. What a difference it makes when teachers and families have positive connections early in the school year!