This past month, I had the honor of being the Keynote speaker for FLAVA’s fall conference. FLAVA is the World Language Teacher Association in Virginia, and it is the oldest in the country! Founded in 1911, it even predates ACTFL!
I shared a few of the strategies that I added to my tool belt, out of necessity, in the last few years, and how and why I am keeping them moving forward. One of these is positive phone calls home!
I want you to think about the last time you made a positive phone call home. Not one where you needed support but a positive phone call. Not a positive email or text… a positive PHONE call home.
If you’re the parent or guardian of a child in K-12, think about the last time you received a positive phone call about your child’s effort, engagement, or academics.
Reactions From Families
This week, I had one child’s mommy say she’d never received a positive phone call home about her child. Another child’s grown up told me she’d NEVER received a call PERIOD. This particular student is one that is ALWAYS doing the right thing, and works hard and diligently, and is a quiet class leader, yet this mom had never, in the history of the child’s time at school, received a phone call about him.
This happened more times than I can count when I called my MS student’s grownups in previous years.
Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in the students who are needing support and aren’t meeting expectations, we forget about recognizing the students who ARE doing the right thing, are meeting expectations, and are coming ready to learn day after day.
Now, hopefully you’ve kept reading up to this point. The very first push back I get from teachers is: “We don’t have TIME to add one more thing to our already overfilled plates!” This is so real! SOOOO valid!
I would argue that it doesn’t take much time at ALL to do this! In fact, I make these phone calls at very specific times so as to limit the amount of time I have available to “chat”.
In my most recent podcast, I challenged you to make 3 positive phone calls home and just reflect on how YOU feel afterwards. It really doesn’t take long.
Example Scripts to Start You Off
Let me give you some example “scripts” to show you how short and sweet these conversations can be!:
Hola! Is this Raleigh’s grown up? This is Maestra, his Spanish teacher! I’m on my way to carpool and only have a minute, but I wanted to call you and tell you I’ve been so impressed with his enthusiasm and effort in Spanish class lately! He comes to class so eager to learn and is always willing to take risks in class and speak in Spanish! I am grateful for him and wanted to let you know while I had a second!
Hola! Is this Taaj’s Grandma!? I am walking to my car to pick up my kiddos but I’ve been wanting to connect with you all week! I’ve seen such an incredible surge in energy and excitement from Taaj lately! He is so curious during class and LOVES all that we’ve been learning about Latinx heritage month! I am so proud of his growth and his efforts to participate even when his friends are more hesitant!
Hola! This is Maestra, Isla’s Spanish teacher! I wanted to reach out to tell you how grateful I am for her unrelenting enthusiasm, effort, and engagement in class. She makes teaching feel JOYful and FUN! It is such a gift to have her in class.
Hola! Is this Mr. Paul, Memphis’s Dad? My name is Maestra, I’m his Spanish teacher! I just wanted to call home and let you know what a leader Memphis has been in Spanish class lately! He is always the first to have his hand up, and his eagerness to participate is really having an impact on some of his friends in the class!
Hola! This is Maestra, am I speaking with Jazz’s momma? I had to call you and share her answer to her “do now” this morning! The prompt was to write about someone or something that you’re grateful for and she wrote your name and said she was grateful for the fact that you care for her each and every day and work two jobs to provide for her and her siblings! I wanted to make sure and tell you in case she doesn’t verbalize it at home every day!
Phone Calls Home Don’t Have To Take Long
I’ve RARELY had a conversation last more than 3 minutes. Usually folks are just so surprised and pleased that they thank you, sometimes they tell you they’re excited to share with their student, or often say they’re always available if I need anything and then sign off!
Quick and easy, and the impact it has on me, my relationship with that student, their continued participation and engagement in class, and my relationship with the community and families of kids I’m teaching is profound. Not to mention, I just feel SO good after a couple of these calls.
So, I challenge you, give it a try!
I usually write down three names and phone numbers on a sticky note and anytime I have to walk in the hall to heat my lunch, go to the office, or leave to go home, I dial one of the numbers. This makes the conversations even quicker because I’m able to say, “I’m on my way home, but didn’t want to go without calling you!” or “I’m just heating up my lunch real quick and wanted to let you know….”
I can’t wait to hear how this impacts you!
Sending you loads of love and encouragement! So grateful for you teacher!
Until next time,
La Maestra Loca
Here’s a selfie after the Keynote at FLAVA. ? Such a JOY!