During my first year of teaching, I made the mistake of making a phone call home to discuss the negative behavior of a student in my classroom. This was within the first few weeks of school, and I received a jarring response, yet one that I learned a lot from. This student was refusing to do work, constantly disrupting the class, and often using disrespectful language to other students and to me. It came to a head one day, and I made a phone call after school to his mom. The conversation went something like this:
Me: “Hi, this is Ms. Christine, your child’s teacher.”
Mom: “Oh hi, is everything ok?”
Me: “Well, actually I was calling to talk about your child.”
…I went to on to summarize recent behaviors.
Mom: “Well honestly, this is the first time I am even talking to you this year. I don’t know you, and my son is also probably trying to get to know you. I don’t like that our first contact is about something negative. I would have loved to first learn about how you teach, how you run your classroom, and what your expectations are, that way I could use the same language with my son and he would know that you and I are on the same team.”
The conversation went on, and I completely understood and respected what she was saying. I didn’t reach out to families at the start of the year. I had planned to hold off until Back-to-School night, which was after the first month. That first month is so crucial to building on the rest of the year, and in hindsight, I should have made a positive contact with each family earlier.
After my conversation with that parent, I made sure to check in with each family, and have an initial get-to-know-you conversation. Throughout the year, I referred to students’ families as being on a team with me, where their child is our quarterback. We all need to work together to support the student. Making that initial initial phone call, talking in person, or chatting over ClassDojo Messenger, has made a huge difference in my classroom support system.