We’ve all had to make those dreaded phone calls home. It always makes my stomach hurt a little when I call parents. I never know if the parent will be supportive and kind, or if they would blame me for everything (definitely been there).
A couple years ago, I took a communications class for my Education Specialist degree. The professor told us that we should call every single students’ home throughout the semester. I thought he was crazy because I have 100+ students every semester! However, I decided to try it. I was shocked at the positive responses I got from both parents and students.
Parents would say, “I’ve never gotten a phone call saying my student was doing well! You just made my day!” Students would come in the next day and thank me for telling their parent or guardian how good they were doing. Since then, I have done this every semester with the same results. I’m hooked!
I know what you’re probably thinking. How did you have time to do this? Well, I didn’t call every home in one day. I called about 5-10 per day for about 2 weeks during my planning period or after school.
Then, I would call again for students who had bad behavior, poor grades, etc. throughout the semester. I also tried to call back for exceptional students and brag on them one more time.
Here are the 5 reasons calling parents is important for teachers:
1. Build Relationships with Parents
The earlier you can make parent or guardian contact, the better. Barbara Mariconda from Scholastic says, “Begin the year by explaining how and when you’ll keep in touch with them.” By establishing a relationship of communication early, parents know that you care about their student.
I usually wait about 2-3 weeks before I call parents so I have time to get to know the students. Sometimes, I even take notes on student behavior and academic performance throughout the first few weeks of school. This helps me stay on track when I call home.
During the phone conversation, I make sure to say something positive about each child. Parents really appreciate you taking the time to call.
2. Raise Student Morale
If a student has gotten a call home, it is usually for a bad reason. It’s amazing to see how excited students get when they get a good phone call home– especially those students that are used to getting bad phone calls.
I’ve had students tell me that no one has ever told their parents they were a “good” student or that they were doing well academically. These phone calls raise a student’s self-esteem so much.
By pointing out a positive trait about each student, you are opening up space for every student to reach their full potential. Students that think they’ll never succeed may just need some positive reinforcement from their teacher. This is why I always call parents with positive information first.
3. Better Classroom Management
Managing your students is not an easy task. I have found that when students know you will call home, it (usually) deters them from bad behavior.
Since I taught high school, and I used to think that my students wouldn’t care if I called home. However, I soon realized that high schoolers can be just as scared of their parents as elementary schoolers!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to scare them. I just want them to know that their parents and I are on the same team.
By calling home, I discovered it set positive expectations for the year.. The students wanted to continue to behave well so that I would continue to give them positive reinforcement.
4. Keep Track of Your Communication
Any time I contact a parent or guardian, I make an entry in my communication log.
It’s always important for a teacher to keep a log of each communication attempt with a parent or guardian.
I had a situation where a student failed my class, and a parent complained that the teachers had never tried to contact them. Luckily, I had a log of all the communication attempts I had tried to make with the parent. Every time I called or emailed the parent, I logged it. My communication log really saved me in that situation.
Because I begin the year by contacting each parent or guardian, I have a good start to my communication log. I continue to fill it out throughout the year and always save a copy in my file cabinet.
5. Make Hard Phone Calls Easier
After you establish a good relationship with the parents during the first 2-3 weeks, it’s amazing how much easier the negative phone calls are later in the semester.
Parents are less defensive and more willing to listen because they know you care. That initial positive relationship you establish really does carry throughout the semester.
Do you have a communication system that works in your classroom? Let me know below!
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