In the summer of 2015, I (Mark) was participating in a Twitter chat and was impressed when a teacher shared that she made a positive phone call home for one of her students every day. I thought, in my school I have 750 students and can certainly find one student a day deserving of a positive phone call home, thus #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay was born. That year (2015-2016) I created a spreadsheet and tracked my 130 different positive phone calls. Actually, I made more than 130 calls, I selected 130 different students that year. For some students I called both parents or other family members, whoever they wanted me to call. I also took a selfie with the student and shared the photo and reason for the call on social media. The following year (2016-2017) I continued my #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay making calls for 135 different students that year. I continued with the selfie and sharing on social media and I bought #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay wrist bands to give each student for them to remember and show others. This has turned out to be a powerful practice taking less than 15 minutes each day and using an easy technology tool, the telephone. Making my positive phone call home is the best part of my day.
During the 2016-2017 school year, I (Jay) had a goal similar to Mark’s – make one positive phone call home. I failed miserably except for one beautiful Friday in April. I had every teacher provide me with at least one student and made phone calls most of the day on that Friday. It was one of the highlights of the year for me and, more importantly, it made our kids and their families feel good. After a summer of learning and challenges by #principalsinaction, I renewed my goal of making a #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay but with a little bit of a twist. I meet with our grade level teams every Thursday and one of our agenda items is to provide me with a name of a student to receive a #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay. Those not on grade level teams have also provided me with names. If there are any “extra” names, I encourage the teachers to make the calls themselves as it’s a great way to build positive relationships with families. This week I added one more twist as I asked staff to nominate a colleague for a #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay. They did, I called the husband of the teacher, and the three of us had a really good cry. The relationships fostered by sharing good news to a student or staff member’s family cannot be underestimated.
When I (Ryan) became a vice principal of a high school, I knew that I needed to do something to make sure that I wasn’t only calling home for discipline issues or problems. I needed to get parents and students to understand that we care about the positive things that are going on as well. Thinking back to the first call I made, the parents were shocked. I had chosen a student that had been in trouble before, but on this day made a great decision and helped out a student who was down on their luck. As soon as I caught him doing something good, I jumped at the opportunity to spread the joy. As I transitioned into becoming an elementary school principal, calling home for good things was a must. These phone calls have established positive relationships with parents and with students.
You can check out the Twitter hashtag #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay to see other educators making positive phone calls and smiling students. Make it a practice to share the positive and recognize the good things happening in your school. Remember, If you’re not telling your school’s story, someone else will.