During my internship, I had one student who I didn’t get along with. At all. Day after day we seemed to be at odds with each other. I had no idea why. And being new at this teaching thing, it didn’t occur to me to ask. But that all changed with one phone call. You may be thinking I called his parents to discuss his disruptive, antagonistic behaviour. I didn’t. It was actually the exact opposite. I called to tell his parents how well he was doing in my class. It was true. He happened to get one of the top marks on the assignment we did that week.
From the first week of my internship, I took the time every Friday to call the parents of students who had done well on assignments, projects, or tests in my class. His parents must have said something to him because after that our relationship completely changed. He became the student I connected with the most. One phone call.
Over the past 15 years, I’ve taught students from grade 9-12, and over and over, when I call parents to express praise of their child. There tends to be the same response. “Pardon, me?” or dead silence at first. Too often the only communication that comes from a school is negative. Or if things are going well — none. I wonder if a step as small as this can pay huge dividends towards creating relationships between teachers and parents. Every child does something well. I especially love when an answering machine picks up because then the child can hear it. And some will play it over and over.
And too be honest, I loved the stunned reaction of parents. It told me I was doing something right.