I grabbed my notepad and began my typical routine that morning, stopping into classrooms and watching all the great teaching and learning going on in the building. The first room I stopped into was a 4th grade math class. The teacher was just beginning to introduce decimals, and the class was having a discussion about what they know (think they know) currently about this topic. The teacher asked for volunteers to come up and put a mark on a number line to show where they thought a particular decimal number would go. Well, it was quiet! It seemed all were afraid to take this risk and be brave! After some coaxing from the teacher, one boy raised his hand and offered to try it out. He came up and put a mark on the line. Next the teacher asked if anyone else wanted to try it out. This time, a student on the other side of the room volunteered. While she was walking toward the front, three or four others raised their hands in anticipation of being the next to try it out. He had started a “brave” moment!!
I asked the boy his name, wrote it down on my notepad, and went on visiting a few more classrooms. In each one, I saw at least one student who did something extraordinary, who had an impact on others, who added great value to the learning community. I spent the rest of the morning looking for students taking risks and being brave. Taking deliberate steps to “find” those profound moments changed the lens for me. It brought my visits into a different focus.
Later that afternoon, I called the parent of the boy I mentioned in the beginning. As I told him who I was, I could hear this quiet “sigh” and a shaky kind of “yes”? After all, when an Assistant Principal calls you at work, it is usually not good. I told him I had been visiting classrooms that morning, and I happened to walk into his son’s math class, and “I just feel it’s important to call and tell you what I observed from your son while I was there”. There was total silence, and then dad said, “Ok, let me close the door”. He sounded very disappointed.
I then told him how the class was beginning a new unit on decimals. How the teacher had asked for volunteers to come share what their current thinking is on decimals. How nobody seemed to want to be the first to do this. And how, after a few awkward moments of silence, his son slowly raised his hand, walked up to the board, and said, “This is what I think”. How his bravery in that moment inspired another student to share her thinking, and that the next thing I knew, hands were up and students were having to wait for their turn to go to the front of the class. I told him how his son’s willingness to do that had created a sort of bravery chain reaction, and how much I appreciated his engagement in class and contributions.
Again there were a few moments of silence. Then dad asked me, “So, that’s it? There’s no shoe dropping”? I said, “Nope, I just wanted to call and brag”. He then began telling me how he couldn’t believe this, how he had never received this type of call, and how proud he was of his son at that moment. He thanked me multiple times and told me that he was going to take him for a burger that night and let him know how proud he was of his being brave in class. He told me that my phone call had made his day. After we hung up, I sat quietly for a moment and thought about what had just occurred.
Even though it was only a ten minute call, that call brought ten minutes of joy and pride to this father. And it would have a lasting impact on him the rest of the day. It would also have an impact that evening when father and son go out for that burger. I could do nothing but smile at the profound effects that one “Good Call Home” had on this family.
Imagine, if we do this every day. Imagine how this might change things for some parents. For some kids. For some entire school communities.
Scott Capro (@ScottCapro) and Rik Rowe (@WHSRowe) have started a great movement for educators everywhere: Placing Good Calls Home, and the power of a simple phone call! There is even a sign up sheet for educators to sign up, committing to making Good Calls Home. (I encourage you to check it out — here).
— Scott Capro (@ScottCapro) September 18, 2014
Using the hashtag #GoodCallsHome is a great way to build momentum and to hold each other accountable. I shared the idea with my Principal, who enthusiastically supported it, and she made a commitment to do this as well! So we are now both committed to the #GoodCallsHome movement and we are holding each other accountable! We have created a Google Doc so that we can each enter the name of the student(s) we call about, and we are going to include a space for reflecting on the reactions we have received.
I am grateful to my buddy Rik for giving me the push to began my own Good Calls Home campaign. He wrote a blog about this movement, which you can find here. There is no way to really express the joy it brings….you really just have to try it for yourself.
I’m loving this #GoodCallsHome movement! I made two yesterday. I really enjoy reaching out to parents with positivity!
— That Math Lady (@ThatMathLady) September 19, 2014