Have you ever had to make that dreaded phone call home to parents about a student who may have been misbehaving or is struggling with their academics? We've all been there, and it's not a fun call to make. Fun or not these phone calls are necessary, and I say phone calls because it is getting all too easy to just send a quick e-mail, but e-mail can seem distant and emotionless. I think e-mail communication is fine for sharing information, but not the best way to facilitate a discussion with parents.
I have made many of these phone calls, and usually they start something like this:
Me: Hello Mr. or Mrs. So-and-so, this is Mr. Mellesmoen from (insert student name here)'s school, how are you today?
Parent (normally in a melancholy voice): Um, fine, why?
Me: I am just wanting to touch base with you....
From there I begin the discussion with the parent sharing details and crafting a plan. Normally after a call like that I'm not feeling great, no one wants to be the bearer or bad news, even if a terrific plan has been set in motion. I think over time if a person is making so many of these calls it can wear on your emotions and begin to bring you down.
But what if.....
For every call you made like that you made one, or even better, several calls to share celebrations. This is something I've always tried to do throughout my career and it really does pay dividends. I have started making this more of a habit and making sure I end every week and every "bad day" with at least two phone calls or two conversations with kids who did something that deserves a pat on the back. The phone calls start the same way as above, but it is so nice to hear the inflection in the parents' voices when I tell them I want to share some great news about their son or daughter.
It doesn't take much to make these calls but the dividends are amazing, after all the only thing to need to do is call them as you see them.