Common teacher mistake #6 — Telling a misbehaving student that you are calling home.
Calling parents is a great thing to do. Even for students whose parents don’t have a lot of control them, a parent call is still pretty annoying. In the beginning of the year, once I identify some distruptive students, I am very quick to make a parent call. I’ve found that a great majority of the parents are supportive, and I almost always see improvement in student behavior and behavior of the rest of the class (once that student gives me some free advertising with “He called my mother!”).
But parental calls are most effective if they are done without warning. I know how it feels to be in a class where a kid is being distruptive. You try to get him to cooperate, but then in your mind you decide you’re calling home that night. Here’s where new teachers make a big mistake. They figure if they are calling home anyway, they might as well get the kid to behave for the rest of the period by letting him know you’re calling home. Then, anything else he does that day will be ‘on the record.’
But there are problems with telling him. First of all, you might not be able to reach the parent that night, for various reasons, and then you look foolish for threating something and not following up on it.
Second, the kid is not going to get quiet once you say it. He is going to act worse because he wants you (or you and the whole class if you said it publicly) to think that he doesn’t care if you call his parent, even though he does.
Third, the kid, knowing that you are calling home now has a chance to either intercept the call and say they’re not home, or to prepare the parent for the call by giving ‘his side of the story.’
It takes a lot of patience to hold in the news that you’re calling home, but it’s well worth it. I taught middle and high school so the kid was going to be gone in about 30 minutes, but even that was hard. In elementary, it’s even harder.
But, by keeping it to yourself you get the full benefit of the parental call.