In addition to the teachers and students, the class team also includes a third member, the parents or caregivers of the students. When teachers help parents become part of the team rather than just spectators, they create a more supportive and open learning culture for the students. It is perfectly natural for parents to want to know how their children are doing in class. By communicating student learning results to parents, parents learn:
how well their children performed on learning targets;
where their child(ren) need additional help and support from them; and
the exact learning targets and measures where their child(ren) is(are) experiencing learning gaps.
When teachers share student learning information with parents every 30 days and make positive phone calls that follow the “three compliments to one criticism” principle, we find that parent satisfaction results increase. For example, the top three Parent Satisfaction Survey items from one of our school district partners (n=8,407) include:
My Child’s learning is a high priority at this school (4.46)
The school provides a safe environment for my child to learn (4.42)
My family is treated with respect a this school (4.40)
What does this mean at the classroom level? Teachers must recognize students for doing something good. Below is a story about how one teacher did this:
One of the teachers on my team is a first year teacher, and she taught the veteran teachers a new strategy. Every week she chooses 3 or 4 students from her classes, and she makes a phone call to their homes. The purpose of the phone call is to relate to the parent or caregiver something that the student has done well that week. Perhaps it is “Sam focused on math this week and really mastered long division with 2 digit numbers.” It might be “Louise has made every effort this week to meet her behavior contract.” The point is to ensure that every parent gets a good phone call, and every student is recognized in a positive way. This process of calling the 3 or 4 parents takes about 20 minutes and makes a great difference for the student and the parent.
In one of our summer professional development days with teachers, on how to properly prepare for the first 30 days of school, one teacher (Ms. G) commented on the significance of calling parents. She told fellow teachers that in the 12 years of her daughter’s and son’s schooling she received only one introductory phone call from a teacher welcoming her and her child to the school year. Ms. G said that she would never forget what that teacher had done to ensure the school year started on a positive note. She said her child’s teacher was a star. She made a difference in the life of Ms. G and her child and probably many others.
Don’t underestimate the difference one phone call can make for students and their parents.
Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. To do this we teach teachers and leaders how to get the best student learning results and create results-oriented school cultures. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com to learn more about Studer Education Teacher Development Institutes (TDIs), Leader Development Institutes (LDIs), and Evidence-Based Leadership. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, the recipient of a 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.