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.