Imagine the difference to school-family relationships if teachers made a phone call to all families at least once a year, not when there were problems, but just to help build connections. I first heard this idea a number of years ago at a workshop on communicating with your school community and, since then, I have heard from a range of teachers who do this on a regular basis.
Some schools, mainly primary schools, expect the classroom teachers (not specialist teachers) to ring families at least once a term to chat about positive things their child is doing in class. In other primary schools the classroom teachers ring families just in term 1 so that the teacher and parents can start building a connection.
It is less common in high schools, but it can still happen. In one school, the families of students are rung in the first term of their high school career. The students are divided between all teachers who teach year 7 (in NSW) and each teacher has to ring a few parents. The aim is to help build a connection between the school and the families, and to discover if the families have any particular concerns or questions.
I initially wondered about the workload and whether it was worth the effort. I’ve found, however, that teachers are generally positive about making the phone calls. They say that it helps create a positive relationship between the school and families, it can help break down barriers (partly because parents expect a phone call home to be negative), it encourages parents to be involved in the classroom or school, and it helps if problems arise later in the year.
Community engagement often works best when time is taken to build relationships and this is a great example.
Have you tried this or had the school ring you (not just when there was a problem)? What do you think?
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