Phoning Parents Part 2

Hello Everyone. I am, Dr. Scott Petri, your instructor for Improving Teacher and Student Relationships. Welcome to the second lecture on improving teacher and parent communication. Thank you to the great people at Match Education for this great book Phoning Parents by Michael Goldstein. It’s cheaper than a Venti at Starbucks. Go get it.

This video will explain the six types of phone calls the book advocates making. If you read the study by Matt Kraft on the website, you know making proactive calls to parents created stronger teacher-student relationships, improved parental involvement, and increased student motivation.

The book recommends making this systemic behavior, investing 30 minutes a day in making parent phone calls. These calls should be no longer than 5 minutes each, which means you can make 6 calls per day, 36 calls a week. If you have 180 students, it will take 5 weeks to call every parent.

The six reasons for making these phone calls are: Shows courtesy and respect to both student and parent; You know parent got the message because you hear them saying uh-huh and what? Phone call communication is 1 to 1; Provide parents with more detailed information about their child’s progress and behavior than progress reports or dailies; Teacher can provide specific advice to the parent; and Increases student interest and investment in learning.

The Praise Call
Teacher describes a positive choice or goal met by the child
Breaks the negative cycle for struggling students
Praise must be specific and detailed
Focus on effort, choices, and accomplishments

The Correction Call
Describes something the student needs to improve
Helps student and parent understand what improvement looks like
Discuss and decide next steps for beginning the process of improvement

The Check In Call
See how student is doing with classwork and homework
Speak to student before parent
You didn’t finish your work in class today, what was the problem?
Recap purpose of call with parent

Text Messaging
Can be praise or reminders
Don’t use texting for corrections or concerns – call instead
Be careful not to automate, or you risk losing the personal bond in the relationship
Services like, or Remind 101 can help personalize batch messages.

Texting is the most popular form of communicating for teenagers. 87% of high school seniors text every day, whereas only 61% of them use Facebook daily. This may not be the medium of choice for parents, so ask what they prefer.

The Summit
An emergency in-person meeting with student and parent present
Create a plan to help student
Be warm, but unapologetic about your high expectations
Make parent your partner

I hope you will consider investing some time in making proactive phone calls to increase your students’ engagement this year. Be sure to check out the additional resources and supplementary videos I’ve put on the blog under the tag phoning parents.

Teacher-Parent Phone Calls

Simply put, the effects of good teacher-parent communication are HUGE!   At the end of the school year, I finished a MOOC about Coaching Teachers and the instructors of that class mentioned an inexpensive book ($5.36 on Amazon) called Phoning Parents: High Leverage Moves to Transform Your Classroom and Restore Your Sanity by Michael Goldstein. The book is only 78 pages. It is a quick read with a lot of great advice.

I love the following quote: “Charlie was a successful educator for many reasons. But none was greater in his mind than his ability and willingness to build relationships with the parents of his students” (p. 11). Then there is some great data:

  • Teacher-parent communication increased homework completion rates by 42%.
  • Teacher-parent communication reduced the time spent redirecting students by 25%.
  • Teacher-parent communication increased students raising their hands by 49%.

This really aligns nicely with The Search Institute’s new Developmental Relationship Framework — not to mention The Fish Philosophy and Tribes community building curricula. I am always interested in hearing from teachers about tools and techniques that help build positive relationships in classrooms.

The book is augmented by a study conducted by Harvard economists who attempted to measure the effects of increased teacher-parent communication. The study found that frequent teacher-parent communication immediately increased student engagement as measured by homework completion rates, on-task behavior, and class participation.

On average, teacher-family communication increased the odds that students completed their homework by 40%, decreased instances in which teachers had to redirect students’ attention to the task at hand by 25%, and increased class participation rates by 15%. Further, the authors report that the 30 minute per day systemic behavior of teachers calling parents created stronger teacher-student relationships, improved parental involvement, and increased student motivation.

What if your students were asked: What teacher (current or past) pushes you to do your very best?” Would they name you? If you invest out of class time advancing a message of high expectations, by praising hard work and good choices, and by confronting them on the little things when they happen, you’ll be one of those positive teachers that kids credit for pushing them. Match recommends spending three hours per week making proactive phone calls will pay large dividends in better student effort and behavior and a better connection between you and the student. I plan to spend 15 minutes from each conference period and 15 minutes in the evening making these phone calls. The extra half hour can be made up over the weekend. Sunday nights are always a good time to reach parents at home.