Many students dread interactions with their principal. A call to go to the principal’s office can only mean one thing: certain doom and a call home. However, many school leaders are erasing this stigma by making a trip to the principal’s office and a phone call to a parent a perk rather than a punishment. Here are seven reasons why principals are making positive phone calls home.
1. They help create a positive school culture.
Audrey was part of my Girls on the Run cheering section and I also watched her pay attention and help others in class. This great student received today's #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay! #GatewoodGators pic.twitter.com/svCbHXFaOB
— Mark French (@PrincipalFrench) May 21, 2018
By focusing on the good deeds of students, positive phone calls can help set the tone for a school’s culture.
Mark French, principal at Gatewood Elementary School in Minnetonka, Minnesota, is in his third year of making positive phone calls home. He started using the hashtag #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay to spread the word about his initiative and regularly shares on Twitter positive things students are doing.
French knows the power this positivity brings to the entire school. He even calls the family members of his staff to share the great work they are doing in his school. Students and staff are called into his office, and then he makes the call home.
French wrote, on the Principal in Boots blog, “I have tears in my eyes making the calls.”
2. They celebrate students.
— Melody Stacy (@me1odystacy) March 13, 2018
Instead of waiting until parent-teacher conferences to highlight students’ accomplishments, positive phone calls allow for immediate recognition and celebration.
Melody Stacy, principal of Taylor Mill Elementary School in Covington, Kentucky, says she loves bragging about students as soon as they’ve done something that merits recognition.
“The student smiles from ear to ear and is eager to help with the phone call home,” Stacy says. “We both talk to the family member, sometimes on speaker, other times one after another. There are smiles, hugs, tears of joy, and there is pure pride. The student leaves the office with a new pep in their step, heading back to the classroom where the teacher gets to join in on the rewards, as well.”
She added, “In my mind, with all of the obstacles our students need to overcome, how do I NOT have time to help forge these connections, build these relationships, and reinforce our students’ genius?”
3. They forge positive relationships with parents.
“Parents shouldn’t be conditioned to feel worried when they get a phone call from school. Instead, they should feel a positive connection to the school and its staff,” says Gregg Bruno, principal at St. John Vianney Catholic School in Wyoming, Michigan.
“In large part, I jumped on the bandwagon to combat what I like to call ‘the pause of dread.’” Bruno says. “Often when I call parents, there is almost always a noticeable pause on the other end after I identify myself. It’s clear that many parents have a negative connotation on receiving a call from their child’s principal. I just want to make sure I’m doing my job to spread the joy that happens in our school, because it far outpaces the negative. There is no doubt that fostering a positive climate by focusing on the good yields amazing dividends.”
4. They make a school leader’s day better, too.
— James Moffett (@JamesMoffettJr) September 28, 2016
Positive phone calls make students and their families happy. James Moffett, principal of Derby Hills Elementary School in Derby, Kansas, says they are also rewarding to principals. “These calls are as exciting for families as they are therapeutic to me,” he says. “The beam on the student’s face, coupled with the joy in the parent’s voice, is an instant reminder about why we do the work we do.”
5. They help administrators get to know students.
Positive phone calls home can help school administrators, who are often removed from day-to-day classroom life, get to know students better.
Each month, Riverdale Elementary School in Thornton, Colorado, focuses on a different scholarly value, like risk-taking, respect, or excellence. When a student excels at that value, they get to make a special visit to the principal’s office for recognition.
“We then call the student to the office and phone a family member with the great news,” Kristin Golden, principal at Riverdale, told Chalkbeat. “The student gets a chance to speak with family about his or her accomplishments before going back to class. It is such a celebration between the student, their family, and the office staff. Parents are thrilled to be receiving a positive call from school.”
6. They reinforce positive behaviors and hard work.
I love hearing the excitement of the parent's voices and how the children beam with pride. I set up a GoodNewsCall bulletin board in the hall. I hear children talking about wanting to get a spot on that board!
— Brian Baumeyer (@BBaumeyer) February 16, 2018
When students know their achievements are being recognized, they’re excited to keep improving. Positive phone calls home can help proactively incentivize good behavior.
Brian Baumeyer, principal at Vogel Elementary School in Evansville, Indiana, even set up a Good News Call bulletin board in his school. He recently tweeted that students can’t wait to get their names on the board. This encouragement reinforces the positive work kids are doing.
7. They are small actions that can make a huge impact.
Liz Garden, principal at Florence Roche Elementary School in Groton, Massachusetts, says, “A phone call takes less than five minutes, but it has such a positive impact on the students and their families.”
Making these calls might take some practice, but there are scripts to help with that. And doing so will significantly benefit your entire school community.