Who’s On Your Speed Dial?

I’ll never forget the day a kindergartner was sent to my classroom for bad behavior.  I knew the teacher was at the end of her rope to send him my way and that the goal was to get him to shape up.  When I started to discuss his behavior he actually said, “Are you almost done? I don’t have time for this.”  I wish I could have recorded the collective gasp of my 5th grade class.  So, I grabbed my cell phone off my desk, flipped it open, and scrolled to the word “MOM”  I asked him if he knew who that was, he just started crying and begged me not to call his mom. He actually thought I had his mom programmed in my phone.  I had a way to ‘encourage’ his good behavior now.

Kudos to DEN STAR Lisa M from Delaware who shared a very interesting blog post titled Fabulous Phone Calls: Go Ahead Make Their Day.  According to the post an actual ‘Family Feud’ question is name the top reasons a teacher would call home.  I looked it up and they are 1) sick 2) bad behavior 3) bad grades 4) fight 5) skipping class.  Not one represents a positive interaction between teacher, parent, and/or student.  Every week Lisa, and other educators at her site, make phone calls to students’ families to say something their child did that was fabulous!  Can you imagine the pride a parent must feel to get that call?  Definitely will change the conversation at the dinner table.

Administrators are not exempt.  I won’t even begin to tell you how many times I was in “trouble” with the principal back in the day.   One afternoon, after a site visit from the Superintendent, I noticed a missed call on my phone.  You can’t imagine my surprise to hear my Superintendent’s message about enjoying her time in my class.  Let’s just say I ran down the principal’s office to let her listen.  (For the record, REALLY glad I didn’t answer my phone in class that day!)

I really enjoyed listening to Peter Reynolds read The Dot today to students.  We need to remind students of all the creative ways they can make their mark in this world.  Equally important, I think we need to remember all the ways that we can leave ‘marks’ in our students’ lives.  Not sure if I am the last one in education to listen to Angela MaiersYou Matter” TedX keynote, but if you have not watched it yet, take time to sit quietly tonight and listen to it.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the middle of the Back-to-School chaos and forget how much we matter in our classrooms.

We have unbelievable technology at our fingertips now.  I remember receiving a picture of my son David on his first day of preschool from the director.  Totally made my day!  What a simple quick gesture, but powerful meaningful to me.

The amazing 4th grade team at Barton Elementary in Anaheim City School District (woot woot… my former friends and colleagues Kathleen, Dana, and Brendan) have designed ‘Fun Fridays’ to motivate their students.  They work as teams to earn 30 minutes of fun free time on Friday afternoons.  Best part is that they allow parents to come celebrate with the students. Once a month they also host a “Welcome Wednesday” picnic, where the students, teachers, and families come together for lunch at the neighboring park. I love these simple ways of reminding parents that they matter and are welcome to take part in their school activities.

I would love to hear how each of your are positively reinforcing behavior this school year.  How are you bridging the distance between home and school to remind each person (student, parent, teacher) they matter in learning process?

P.S. Make sure you check out International Dot Day to remind your students how they can make their mark. It’s an event not to be missed!

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