Rethinking My Have-To’s

You get the page that the phone is for you.
Be honest.
What is your initial reaction?

I often know that if we get a call from a parent while we’re at school it is usually not to tell us what a good job we are doing. Sad, but true.

But then again if I’m being honest, I must admit that the majority of the calls that I make to parents are not positive. Most of the calls that I have to make to parents are to tell them something bad that their child has done or something bad that was done to their child.

This is something that I am trying to improve upon, but I am nowhere near where I want or need to be. This year I am trying to make more positive phone calls or as the hashtag on Twitter denotes #GoodCallsHome. Below is the result of a good text home:

It obviously meant a lot to the parent. And since I already know this, why don’t I start making the time to do this more often? I don’t have a good excuse. I need to start rethinking the calls that I have to make.

This was made clear to several weeks ago by what I thought at the time was a very unlikely source.

The day began by me having to call a parent to explain to her the consequences her son would have as a result of a bad decision he had made. This parent was mad at me and vehemently disagreed with my decision and my logic behind it. As an assistant principal, calls like these are part of the job description. I get it. After the call I went about my day like any other. I really didn’t have time to dwell on the unpleasant exchange that started my day.

But as the day went on I kept getting phone messages that the parent that I had talked to first thing in the morning was trying to reach me.

Great, I thought to myself sarcastically. I told myself that I would return the call at the end of the day. I really wasn’t looking forward to an exchange like the one that started my day and I wanted to put it off as long as possible.

Yet, that is not my brain works. I continued to go about my day, but the fact that I had to call the parent back kept finding its way back into my thoughts. And the fact that this parent kept trying to reach me did not make me more eager to return her call. I finally made up mind to make the call.

I closed my door.
I slowly began dialing the 10 digits that I had dreaded all day.
Maybe she won’t answer.
Then I can just leave a message.
No such luck.

What took place next was one the most amazing things that has ever happened to me during my 18 years in education.

She apologized!
It was a beautiful, sincere and heartfelt apology. The feeling it gave me was more powerful than any complement could’ve have ever invoked. I can’t recall a parent ever calling me to apologize.

Wow, I had no idea!

It made me realize that I really need to start thinking more about the phone calls that I make. Obviously, there are some that I must make. But, I am starting to realize that there are many calls that I haven’t been making that I should be making.

One thing I know for sure.
That parent didn’t have to call me to apologize.
But she did.
And it meant a lot.

I think it’s time for me to start rethinking my have to’s.

1 Comment »

  1. Hi Jon,

    There are a lot of phone calls that I don’t like to – or want to – make in my job, either. Sometimes I try to put them off. Thank you for reminding me that they should go to the top of my list! Over the course of my short tenure in my current job, I’ve made a couple of great relationships with very frustratred parents, and it helps me to remember that they want their child to be successful just as much – or most likely more – than I do, and that phone call can be the bridge to building a relationship and working together to student success.

    I’m going to rethink my to-do list on Monday morning, and put my phone calls at the top of the list!

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