Want parent support? Start with positive phone calls!

Teaching is hard work, (at least to do it well), isn’t it?  One of the hard things to do is call parents.  But you can make it easier and more productive by calling parents proactively, before their child does anything wrong.

  • Tell them about positive things their child has done such as participating in class or encouraging others.
  • Tell them about positive attributes you see in their child such as kindness or helpfulness.
  • Tell them things you just like about their kid, such as a ready smile, a cooperative spirit, or a respectful attitude.
  • Tell them about an achievement their child has accomplished, such as finishing work, acing a test, passing a level in Rocket Math.

Positive phone calls require planning

Make a list of all the students in your room.  You can then make notes during the day when you see achievements, good behaviors or traits that you like.  (While you’re in the business of noticing good behavior, go ahead and praise the student out loud for those things as well as writing it down.) Keep going until you get something noted down for every student.

Then sit down in the evening and call the parents of those students.  Keep going until you have called everyone two or three times with good news*.  When you make positive phone calls, the parents know you’re a good person and you don’t “have it in” for their child.  Positive phone calls will pave the way for parents to be willing to listen when you have a problem to report or a request to make.   But you will have to keep doing it–you’ll have to keep calling and telling their parents positive things.  That may be a challenge for some students, but if you want to win their parents over to your side, you have to do it.

A general rule for dealing with other human beings

If you want to be heard, keep your ratio of positives (compliments) to negatives (criticisms) at least three to one.  That goes for students, parents, other teachers and even the principal.  If your negatives outweigh your positives, you will be seen in a negative light and you won’t be listened to or heard.  You’ll just be tuned out.  It works the same with students as well as adults.  If you want your students to do what you want, be sure to recognize and compliment or praise those who are doing it the right way–and do it at least three times as often as you hand out negative criticisms.

To get cooperation, you must be positive

I’ve often been called in to observe a student who was being uncooperative.  Almost every time, as I would sit behind that student, I would see them starting out doing the right thing.  That student would not be recognized for that, but as soon as they did something wrong, the teacher would ding them (say something critical or corrective).  The student would shape up, and guess what?  They wouldn’t be praised or noticed at all–until they messed up.  The teacher is creating that problem.  No one will be cooperative when all they get is negatives.  The teacher has to start noticing and praising that student for good behavior if the teacher wants it to continue.

The same goes with parents.  If you want them to support you, they need to get three times as many good reports as they get negatives.  Try it this year and you’ll be amazed. And you know what else?  It’s a lot more enjoyable to make positive phone calls than negative ones.

* You might have to use the same compliment with several parents, but try to be unique as they may talk with each other.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *