Building relationships has always been an important part of being a teacher and coach. Now, as the principal of Central Intermediate, it continues to be a top priority. I started the year, greeting families as they came to register their child for school. I introduced myself, shook their hand, and told them if there is anything we can do to make sure that your child has a successful year, do not hesitate to ask. The mother, responded with, as long as we don’t receive any phone calls from you, the principal, it should be a successful year. I responded with, well, I hope to make my interaction with students and families a positive one. After saying this, I knew I had to keep my word. Although I knew I would be making phone calls to families regarding situations that might not be positive, I wanted to make sure that these were not the only calls I made.
Ironically, that week, I came across a blog from @rggillespie, Reed Gillespie on Twitter, called “Friday Five”. In his blog, he states how he calls five random families to seek their input on how their school is doing and what they can do to improve. I decided to take his idea and implement it at Central. To keep my word to that particular family that associated a principal’s call home as negative, I made some changes to Reed’s Friday Five. Every Friday, I find 5 students who do something positive whether it is from a simple greeting, helping another student or staff, following PBIS expectations, or doing something that impacts others in a positive way. During my first Fab 5 on Friday calls, I had one parent go silent when I said, Hi, this is the principal from Central Intermediate…and then when I said, calling to let you know how proud I am of your child for representing Central in a positive way. Usually, a big sigh of relief, laughter, or even tears of joy follow my statement. After sharing the great news about their child, I ask them if there are any concerns or areas we could improve on so their child has a great year. Most of the time, the parents are very complimentary of the staff and school. If they provide suggestions, it is usually related to the needs of their child or some even ask for volunteer opportunities.
When I first started this, I was concerned with the commitment I made to calling five families every Friday. I wonder if I would find the time to do this every Friday. However, after observing the students on Monday after I recognized them in front of the student body and hearing some of them talk about how happy their families were, I knew I had to keep this commitment. What transpired after the first few weeks of Fab 5 on Friday was incredible! Students became much more eager to visit with me. I had students even volunteer to pick up trash. Although this was not my intent for Fab 5, I believe anytime we can encourage students to choose positive behavior, it is time well spent and worth it! No matter what kind of week I have, ending my week with positive phone calls is a great reminder why I became an educator. Through these phone calls I have recognized how building relationships with families can truly help create a strong partnership with home and school. I have had to call some of the same families for poor choices their child made and their reaction is much more understanding and supportive. The positive phone call let the family know I care about their child whether they are making good choices or poor choices. We are a team and we all have a role in helping create great character in our students!
I strongly encourage any administrator or teacher to find ways to make positive phone calls home or some type of positive interaction with families because it has created something that has become contagious in my building. Positive attitudes are contagious!
So far, I have kept my word, that phone calls from the principal will not just be ones that are considered negative. Phone calls on Friday will continue to highlight all the great actions our students are doing in our building! 60 students have been recognized this year as Fab 5 students!
CHOOSE EXCELLENCE EVERY DAY!