Armed with the following, it's possible that a three-minute phone call can make your year with a given student. You just need:
- a specific thing/event/anecdote that you appreciate about the student in question;
- the right “bent” — humility, appreciation — for working well with parents (a whole post on that here); and
- a working phone number for the parent.
(That last one is often the hardest part.)
I slipped away from doing positive parent phone calls last year. I made very few. It's a classic case of the urgent things of teaching hijacking the important ones. It's a quiet hijacking — you vaguely know it's happening, but the alarms aren't raised until it's too late. No doubt about it, last year I left a lot on the table in terms of my teacher credibility. When you make a genuine, positive parent phone call, you're potentially creating a free PR team in your student's life.
At the dinner table:
“Hey, have you done Mr. Stuart's homework tonight?”
“C'mon! You can't let that man down!”
At the football game:
“How are your kids' teachers this year?”
“You know what, I got a call from one of them. Mr. Stuart, I think his name was. He had such nice things to say about my son.”
“Oh really? I wish my child's teachers did that…”
I'm not sure if that's how it goes, but I imagine it sometimes might.
It's not that you're doing something special — it's not about you at all. It's that you're genuinely communicating care, and it matters. People notice. It's just a small part of your day, but it makes someone else's.
When someone compliments me about my book, I feel good about my work. But when someone compliments me about my child, I feel good about the person doing the complimenting. I'm not aware of any quicker way to my heart. 🙂
So, if you're serious about enhancing your teacher credibility, take 15 minutes a day, and work through your roster.