When I embarked upon this journey of making 100 positive phone calls home, I had no idea the impact this simple gesture would have on our learning community.
The process was simple, lookup the contact information, make the phone call and share the positive message with a parent directly or leave a voicemail message. Most conversations started something like this:
Me: “Hi, is this ________.?”
Adult: (audible intake of breath followed by a nervous/ hesitant) “yes it is.”
Me: “Hello, this is Laura Jennaro, Principal of Milton Middle School, how are you today?”
Adult: “(pause/ sigh)…ok…” the dread apparent on their tongues.
Me: (Although I was tempted to sound stern and make them think it was a discipline call, I just couldn’t do it! The smile on my face could be heard in my voice and did I have a wide smile when I made these calls. Ear to ear!) “Well I just needed to let you know that Mr./Mrs. ______ was bragging to me about how great ______ is and I wanted to tell you about it!”
Adult: (audible exhale on the other end of the line or a nervous laugh) a surprised “OH!?!
This is the fun part…when I launched into sharing the great things the teachers shared with me about their children. We smiled together, laughed together and I often learned something positive in return!
Through these conversations my bucket was filled to overflowing and judging by the responses of the parents, including follow up emails and voicemails from those I had to leave a message for, their buckets were overflowing too!
The most surprising realization I had, came after I heard “this is the first positive call I have ever gotten from a school. Thank you! Thank you so much!” time after time. Oftentimes these words were accompanied by sound of tears in their voices.
This was unchartered territory for many of these parents. These 7th and 8th grade parents were hearing how much we value their child as a member of our learning community for the FIRST time. EVER.
These kids are 12 and 13 years old. They have been in school for over half of their K-12 experience, 7-8 years and not once have had a positive call home? How could that be?
Shouldn’t we be showering our children with love and praise? Shouldn’t we be sharing the joy with parents and family members? Are we not celebrating the positives? Have we become entitled, expecting too much? Or have we been focusing on the wrong things? Have we forgotten about the work of the heart?
Had I not pushed myself to tackle a seemingly impossible task, I never would have learned the power of a positive phone call home. There is no looking back now. I will keep moving forward, striving to provide a better experience for our kids.
We need both our hearts and minds to learn, without one, you cannot have the other.