I read an article early this week about the power of a teacher's positive phone calls home. The article made me reflect on the positive phone calls I made home during my 37 years in the classroom, and how that helped my relationships with the students, parents, and the community.
I did not begin my career knowing about the importance of a positive phone call home, but I learned the lesson quickly. After all, no one wants to receive bad news every time a school representative calls!
For 36 of my 37 years, I taught several classes of students who were challenged learners. Some were diagnosed with dyslexia or they were on the Autism spectrum; some were in terrible home situations; some were low functioning and had zero confidence, and some were fighting addiction. Although I was only 21 when I began my teaching career, I recognized that most parents were doing the best they could do, and for the parents whose children were special needs, their responsibilities were never lifted. When I saw a student who was doing especially well, or acting with a positive attitude or helping another student, I made a brief phone call home. Sometimes parents were hostile at the beginning of the conversation, waiting to hear more upsetting news about their child. When I shared good news, I was greeted with tears and/or laughter of relief; for some, my positive phone call was the first they had ever received.
The classroom dynamic changed for the better when I made these special positive phone calls home. Suddenly, kids who might have been filled with false bravado were a little meeker, and a little more respectful and appreciative of the class, the classmates, and the teacher. Students interpreted my phone calls home as a kind of "The teacher likes me and cares about me" message.
Calling home takes extra time. I suggest starting out with, "I only have a few minutes before class begins, but I wanted to give you a quick call to share some good news about your son." Knowing that your time is limited will help to propel the positive info quickly and in a happy manner, and you will be off the phone in a matter of minutes.
My former principal, Mr. John Schwoebel, once told our faculty that, "Parents are sending us the best children they have to offer." Don't those parents need to hear some good news sometimes? Sharing good news helps that parent to know that you, too, care for their child and his well-being. After all, "Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care." Theodore Roosevelt
Here is a link to the article that prompted this column.
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Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school. if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom. www.Fieldtripzoom.com and a company called www.StreamableLearning.com GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 and 2018 (new edition) from The Authors' Zone.Grady also won a 2018 prestigious Moonbeam Award for Best Children's Book with Merchandise.
Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading. Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired!
Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom. Check them out! http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
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