So don’t make an idle threat of saying, “I’m gon’ call your parents.” Just do it and call the parent. That phone call has power. It can build a relationship and motivate students. In other words, calling parents is an effective strategy. Indeed, calling the parent without the announcement can help deescalate a tense situation.
Calling Parents is Required.
Don’t be too busy to forget to do the work. That’s what my second principal told me. It meant don’t forget to do the paperwork, calls, attendance, etc. I didn’t appreciate what he said until a year or so later when the same principal called me into a meeting with an irate parent who was upset that she wasn’t notified about her son’s attendance and performance until she got the report card. The teacher who gave the F to the young man and marked him absent had not called. Fortunately for me and the school I had. And more importantly I could prove it. That phone call’s power is not limited to how it effects the student. Since many teacher and leader evaluation systems and school boards require teachers to contact parents, that phone call impacts your evaluation.
Maybe you haven’t lived through that one. Perhaps you’ve been in this situation. How many of us have had to do a grade change because we or someone else didn’t follow board policy?! At one school this happened rather frequently.
In a similar situation, I tried to help a teacher. So I called parents on their behalf. Yeah, I know this is not necessarily the job of an instructional coach. Together we planned the message and who I was to call. I called the parents. But when I looked into the contact log no one from the school had called that entire semester. That’s right my call would have been the first call home. Or maybe mine was going to be the first one documented. I digress. One parent didn’t know his straight A twelfth grader’s grade dropped by five points in a required class. Another parent didn’t know that her child was skipping class. Do you know that both of these children began to attend class and one almost passed the state mandated exam while the other ones I called did.
Or maybe you encountered this event. A student told me I’m going to tell my mom. I was happy he was. I gave him my phone to call the parent. See I had been calling the parent for weeks to no avail. So when they called I was happy to set up a conference. Needless-to-say the parent came in mad at me, but left angry at him.
Calling Parents is Effective
It was the power of a phone call that kept that parent from suing the school. It was the power of a phone call that turned that parent into a long-time partner in her child’s education. We then helped her son turn things around.
It was the power of the phone call that helped us straighten the second child out and others in the class. It was the power of the phone call that motivated students to attend class and achieve.
Calling parents is an excellent return on investment. That parent is now a partner in student achievement. Frequent and meaningful parental contacts can improve student behavior, class participation, homework completion, and so much more.
To my fellow educators don’t be too busy to forget to do the work. Call, text, and email the parent.
True there is a lot we don’t control but that which we don’t control we can possibly influence. That’s the power of the phone call it multiplies your influence. Come to think about it, maybe we need to modify the serenity prayer to add influence. Well that is altogether a different subject.
Don’t forget to DOCUMENT your efforts to avoid possible problems like the ones I described above. Have anyone else gone through similar things? Please share them.