System-Wide Positive Phone Calls Home

Everyone in building commit to calling 3 families a week to give positive feedback about their child's contribution to the school community.

Photo of Rebecca Peters
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This is by no means a new idea, but systematizing and keeping each other accountable for positive phone calls home is a great way to make more and stronger connections to family and community. If everyone in a school building committed to calling 3 families each week about a positive thing that their student did for the school community, a few things might happen:

1. People on staff might be more aware of thoughtful and positive actions taken by the students in their building, helping them to not only feel more supported in creating and maintaining a positive culture, but also to recognize more positive attributes in the student body. 

2. People on staff as a collective might know more about the student body in that building than ever before - stories could be shared at staff meetings, in the teachers lounge, or on duty, creating more accessible knowledge about the surrounding community cultures and allowing those cultures to permeate the building. 

3.  Students might feel more appreciated, seen, and heard, and might intentionally start to contribute more positively as contagious kindness moves through the building.

Some structures that might keep this in place: 

a. Have translators available for office hours a few times a week for building staff to feel more comfortable making calls to other-primary-language households.

b. Create a spreadsheet accessible to all that identifies how many calls home a student has received that year. Similar to the structure where you ensure every student has a trusted adult in the building, you might see gaps or opportunities for other building staff to step in to this role for specific students. 

c. Offer accountability buddies to each staff member so that each person has someone else on staff they can share their successes or areas for growth with. 

d. Involve everyone on building staff, not just classroom teachers. 

e. Have themed months for what we're looking for as far as positive actions in students - based on CASEL standards, building priorities, recognized areas for growth in the student body, etc. 

f. Call the students specifically sometimes, not just the parents / guardians. Let them know you're still reflecting on the time you saw them help a friend on Monday, and make a call to them on Wednesday night to let them know you're thinking of them and are proud of them. 

g. Call across grade levels and other invisible boundaries that may keep us from making novel connections to new students. The well-being of every student in the building is the collective responsibility of every adult in the building. This mindset shift can help move us all towards collective efficacy and healthy interdependence. 

Share research or student experiences that informed your idea!

1. I'm currently reading the book We Got This by Cornelius Minor, and his whole premise is that we must first LISTEN to students and communities if we are to understand them and support them. These phone calls can be a step in the right direction to promoting ongoing 2-way communication between the school and the community. 2. When I was teaching in the classroom, these positive phone calls changed my relationships with my students and their families.


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Photo of Rachel Smith

This is a great idea. I used to do what I called "fun phone call Fridays" every week. It worked wonders with parental engagement.

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