It was the final moments of a half-day PD day. Our staff had gathered in our cafeteria after a short (but felt long) day with students. We had spent the afternoon revisiting the power of teacher language and were ending with the PDEP process, how we would measure the growth of our students, our community, and our own professional development. “And we’re going to try something new!” our principal boomed, obviously excited. “Starting today, we are going to make sure every student at our school gets a positive phone call home!”
While the sentiment sounded terrific, I immediately let my brain go to the negative. I’m a coach…I don’t have relationships with parents. It will be so random for me to call home. Do parents really want to be bothered?
Fast forward a few days and I found myself covering a fifth grade classroom so that the teacher could attend a virtual Teacher’s College day. The kids kept reminding me that I wasn’t doing it like their classroom teacher. I quickly found my go to kid. Alan. I consulted with him ahead of any major move. “Alan, how does your class line up for music?” I’d whisper before having to transition the kids to their special. Or , “Where does Ms. M let you sit during writing?” When rain forced recess indoors, the students wanted a five paragraph essay about why they couldn’t use their chromebooks. I didn’t even have to ask. Alan just slowly shook his head, without his classmates noticing. He was looking out for me, letting me now that chromebooks weren’t a usual indoor recess choice.
After dropping the kids off at art, I knew Alan would be my first positive phone call home. After getting his mom’s number from our secretary, I dialed quickly, just wanted to check this thing off my list. I silently wished that his mom wouldn’t answer, so I could just leave a message.
But she picked up after a few rings. I started talking quickly, introducing myself and stating, “I know this is kind of random…” Then I went on to explain how being a guest teacher can sometimes be tricky, but her son, Alan had helped to make the day easier. “I just wanted you to know that you’re raising a really kind kid.”
I could feel Alan’s mom’s smile on the other end of the phone. “You just made my day. We think Alan is pretty great…but he’s our kid!” Her pride and joy made my day. The only thing better was Alan’s reaction when I picked the class up from art and casually mentioned to him that I had just called his mom…just to let her know how helpful he had been. I could tell he was surprised, in a good way. He couldn’t stop smiling as he kept glancing back at me, to make sure I wasn’t going to deliver a punchline.
I’ll admit that I underestimated the power of a positive phone call home. Maybe, I just had to experience the little sliver of joy I could give someone else and the feeling I felt in return. That joy continues to radiate inside of me as I keep my eyes open wide for my next opportunity to make a call.