Administrators and teachers make many phone calls home. The “call home” is often made due to a concern that we are having with a student’s attendance, behaviour, grades…and these calls can be difficult to make. When a family member picks up the phone on the other end and finds out that it is the school calling, often their first thought is that there is a problem and you can instantly hear the apprehension in their voice as they brace themselves for the dreaded “call home”.
When I was a student I never received a “call home” though I clearly recall being threatened once by my Grade 10 English teacher. I hadn’t done my homework and he was having a
bad very bad day. He ended up sending me to the principal’s office to be “dealt with”. Lucky for me, the principal was away that day and Mr. Glavine, my favorite teacher, was filling in so we chatted about the need to do homework and he had me wait out the rest of the block in the office. No phone call home was made…thank goodness!
One morning in May I was making several calls following office referrals about behaviour. I was sitting in my office after hanging up the phone with a parent and I started thinking about positive referrals. I had recently been reading Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf and they were talking about the impact of positive phone calls home. #lightbulbmoment !
I decided that I would head off to a classroom to find a recipient of a positive phone call. It didn’t take long to find students doing great things! I visited a Grade 7 class where students were working on projects about Ancient Egypt. They had chosen their own topics and were sharing what they had learned with peers and other teachers and staff who had dropped into the class to visit. There was a papier mache Anubis, a replica of a village made from Lego, ancient games sculpted from river clay, Rosetta Stones made from slate and chalk, mummies and more. Everyone was engaged in the learning. I visited with each student, asking them about their project, what they had learned that they found most interesting and took photos of the students with their projects. Students were so confident and enthusiastic about their work and their teacher was so proud of the work they had done, the energy in the room was amazing!
When I returned to my office I made several positive phone calls home. Each time a parent/grandparent/caregiver answered and I introduced myself they responded with an “Oh?…” that was heavily laden with apprehension. I quickly explained that I was making a positive call home to let them know what a wonderful discussion I had just had with their child/grandchild about their learning. I went on to tell them about the projects and the confidence that each student had shown while talking to me about what they had done. Each person told me that they had never received a phone call like this from a principal. They were so happy to get the phone call, I could actually hear the sound of their smiles! At lunch time, two of the grandparents that I had called actually showed up in the office. They were beaming with pride, and asked if they could possibly go to their grand daughter’s classroom to see her project. The Grade 7 teacher was eating her lunch in the staff room and when she heard about the visitors she stopped eating her lunch and happily hurried off to greet them. She them escorted them to her classroom, chatting with them about the projects along the way.
Later that day I uploaded the photos I had taken onto our school FaceBook page and posted about the wonderful time I had chatting with students about their learning.
So go ahead, take the time to make those positive phone calls. You won’t believe the positive impact it will have on students, families and you!