I called all but 5 of my students over the past few days. That's 33 phone calls. And I am buoyant. The best time to call home is definitely before school starts, nothing scary about a pre-school phone call. I was just calling with a welcome to 5th grade and Open House invitation for the day before school. I only got to speak directly to 5 of my students. I left lots of messages via voice mail. I left even more messages via parent. There was a common theme among the parents I spoke with. They were suspicious. Not once I told them who I was, but before I told them, when I first asked to speak with their child. People who just moments before had pleasantly answered the phone, immediately went to mama/papa bear mode when I inquired if their child was available. At first I was off put, thinking maybe I shouldn't call to speak with my students. Then I was intrigued, with each new switch from pleasant to gruff I got a sense that these parents care deeply about their children--protective through and through. And then the best part, after introducing myself they relaxed, they chatted, they were happy to talk to me, surprised and elated that I called.
What a great feeling. Connecting with these parents who are entrusting their child to me. Hearing their protective nature for these children we will be sharing for the next year. And hearing their happiness, surprise, eagerness to connect back with me. And this is why I spoke with so few of my students, I spent so much time connecting with their parent that by the time I would have spoken with their child, the parent had already relayed the open house invite and room number for me.
One dad was so happy I called, he merrily relayed everything I said to his daughter, who must have been sitting next to him, as I said it. And while at first he suggested they had been thinking his wife might bring their daughter to the open house, by the time we were saying goodbye he eagerly told me that not only his wife and their daughter would see me at the open house but he would like to come along, too.
Upon immediate reflection, I was sad to have not spoken directly to more of my students. But now, many hours later I still sit fulfilled at having connected with the parent. I have plenty of time to get to know my students, to make an impression on them over the school day. But today was my chance to connect and impress the parent. And I can rest knowing that it was a success. I can now build upon this initial good impression if necessary should I need to call with less stellar news mid-year.
When I heard I was returning to the classroom I had set a goal to call home on 6 students each week--just a check-in, no bad news. After today, I have taken that goal from "maybe" to "must-do".