Tips for Making Positive Phone Calls to Parents
“Did you hear the good news?” Calling a parent to share positive feedback about their kid is a great way to start a relationship with them. Are you calling with good news on a regular basis? If not, this advice may help you create your own strategy for revving up your calls.
If you work in education, you know that some parents only hear from the school when the news is not good.
Homework wasn’t turned in.
Behavioral strategies aren’t working.
An absence a month ago was never excused.
Is everything okay at home?
Even a well-intended phone call from a teacher or administrator can feel like an insult–or even worse, an accusation–that your child or your family is somehow not enough.
Kids need positive reinforcement, and parents do, too. It’s a great idea to make a point of reaching out to parents when they are on the right track. Parents deserve to know when they are doing some things right, too.
Is a student doing something good right now? It may be something as simple as you seeing improvement in the student being awake or staying in their seat for an entire class period. When you see a child doing their best, stop and call the parent right then and there, and brag on them- and then watch that child glow for the rest of the day.
Set a goal for yourself, maybe to call about two of your students this week, or to call one parent per day. Take a minute during class to make note of some positive comments or snap a photo that you can share with parents.
Teach yourself to reach out
Here are some tips to help you make positive parent communications a part of your day, every day:
Pick a student with whom you have had limited parental contact. Before you call, you can also ask the student a few questions about their home life.
- Who lives at home with you? Knowing that a student lives with a single parent or with multiple siblings can give you insights on their personality or their mood that day.
- What days do you go from one parent’s house to the other? A positive call from a teacher to a custodial parent on transition day may make that evening better for the child.
- Do you ride the bus, or does someone pick you up at school? If the student spends several hours after school with a grandparent, their relationship with the child may be as influential, or more influential, than the parents'.
Now, think about those students whose parents have probably gotten more than their fair share of negative calls from the school.
- Do you have to deliver bad news? Sandwich the negative information between two compliments, like this: “Brianna has a really great attitude. I wanted to make sure that you knew that she made a very low score on her midterm test. I believe in her ability to recover from this because I know how hard she has worked up to now.”
- Is the student with the most discipline infractions also a talented artist? Let the parents know that this student regularly does well in class and seems to really enjoy it.
- Is a hardworking student struggling academically? A little nudge thanking parents for instilling a great work ethic in their child may give that student inspiration to keep at it.
Each child is special in their own way- but there are always a few “extra medium” kids who fly under the radar because they don’t require a lot of redirection or attract a lot of praise.
- Is one of those students being kind to a student who is going through a difficult time? Compliment the parents on how supportive they have been.
- Did one of your “B” students pick out a surprisingly difficult book to read? Let the parents know that you recognize a curiosity in them that you haven’t seen before.
- Do you see interest in a new activity, but no action, from a student who typically coasts through school? Let parents know that you would gladly encourage the student if they chose to run for class officer or join a new club.
Finally, dedicate some time to those “perfect” kids who seem to have it all together. Perfect kids can get lost in the shuffle when it comes to parent communication.
- Who are your top five GPA students? Place calls to parents telling them that they are top of the class- and that you appreciate their hard work, leadership, and/or attention to detail.
- Do you have a student who has never had a discipline incident? Let parents know how exceptional and rare that is.
- Is the student with perfect attendance also especially compassionate or cheerful? Let parents know that the student’s positive attitude is valued daily in your classroom.
What if you can’t reach the parents by phone?
Parents do want to communicate with teachers… but many are reluctant to answer the phone these days. Maybe they are working or sleeping because they work odd hours. They may think the call is a telemarketer- or a bill collector- if they don’t recognize the number.
Start by texting their cell phone first. Introduce yourself, and ask them to save you as a contact, so that they will recognize your number when you call next time.
Have the student text the parent a “heads up” followed by a text from you immediately after. If that doesn’t work, try emailing them. If all else fails, write the good news in a note and pin it to the student’s shirt!
Keep track of your communication history
Making positive contact with parents can be fun and rewarding for you. It feels great to tell someone that they are impacting the world in a positive way. Keep a record of the calls that you are making so that you can celebrate your own accomplishments, too!
SchoolStatus is the district-wide communication tool that integrates key student data in order to increase communication among educators, district administrators, and student families. The company’s solution aggregates individual student data, such as state assessments, attendance, and grades in an easy-to-visualize format and offers the option to communicate with student families via call, text, or email. Through SchoolStatus, millions of communications have occurred on the classroom, campus, and district level. For more information about SchoolStatus, visit www.schoolstatus.com.