Several years ago, I learned about a Principal in Minnesota who was doing a daily good news call of the day. After he made the call, he would then share the good word on his Principal Twitter page. Even though I have never met Principal French I enjoyed learning about the great things that the students were doing on a daily basis at his elementary school.
I was inspired.
So two years ago, I started with the goal of making at least one goods new call a week. Not only were the students surprised to see me come and get them out of lunch or class to make a positive call home, but their parent and/or guardian were equally excited to hear the good word.
As a Principal, I see the benefit of making a positive phone call home and how it builds a positive relationship between myself and the student and between the school and the parent. These positive phone calls home help to strengthen relationships on all sides and dispel the belief that the Principal only makes phone calls home that is negative.
This year, I read that research supports the benefits of a positive phone call home. In a recent 2017 Harvard research study, they note “We find that frequent teacher-family communication immediately increased student engagement as measured by homework completion rates, on-task behavior, and class participation.” As the lead learner in the building, if I can also contribute to increased student engagement with a good news call of the day, I am in!
When I get the student to make the good news call of the day, it often takes a few moments for the student to realize that they are not in trouble, rather they are being acknowledged for something good. After I make the phone call, I follow up with a handwritten note that I mail to their house as a memory and I post a picture of the #goodnewscalloftheday on the bulletin board outside my office using the amazing HP sprocket to print the picture.
I remember one call in particular that first year. The mom was not able to get to the phone, so I left a message on the mom’s voicemail. That very next week, I saw the student’s mom at a school event and with tears in her eyes, she said, “I have never gotten a positive phone call about my child before. I have saved that message and on hard days, I play it as a reminder of the good that others see in my child.” Easily one of the highlights of my career.
This past school year, I decided to not only make a good news call of the day to students, but I was also going to call with a good news call of the day for my staff. The best part of the good news call of the day for staff, students were the ones who were sharing the good word with me (via a google form). After getting the information from the student, I would find the teacher during their plan period and together I would call anyone that they wanted.
Some of the people my staff selected were their parents, their spouse, significant other and their children. Like my good news calls to my students, these phone calls were equally inspiring. Not only was I able to share the good word about my staff member to a family member, but I was also able to share what I most appreciated about the staff member.
I tried this year to call every day. Although I did not meet the goal of calling every day, one of the highlights from this school year was calling a staff member’s dad (who was in his 80’s) about what a student at school had appreciated about their teacher. My staff member’s dad said, “That is the highlight of my year. I am so glad to hear that my daughter is making a difference with her students.”
This coming year, I am going to continue the good news call of the day for staff and students. It is one of my daily highlights being able to recognize students + staff for something great that they did that day. I often stay that I am their biggest cheerleader and if I can encourage them to keep doing great things, then I feel that I am reaching my goal of helping others.
Don’t take my word for it. Try it. You will be glad you did :).