Friday, May 30, 2014

The Power of Positives

Parents deserve to hear about the good things that are happening in our classrooms. My principal is such a believer that his weekly bulletin always includes the reminder "Have you made a positive phone call this week?" Even though I'm a believer, I don't always remember to do this after the school day has ended, so I was inspired when I heard Jeanne Tribuzzi explain how she not only does this, but does it in a way that is quick, fun, and really powerful. She makes the positive phone calls right during class.

Here is what it might look and sound like. While conferring with Micah, I discover he just finished the chapter book he has been reading. This is a big deal because he has a history of struggling to find, and stick with, a good-fit book.

 "Micah, we have been focusing on sticking with a book until the end, and you did it! I knew you could do it! I think we should call your mom!"
Micah goes over to the phone and dials the number. He can't help but smile when he says, "Mom, my teacher wants to talk to you."
"Mrs. Masterson, I just wanted to tell you that one of Micah's goals has been to find a chapter book that was a good fit and to stick with it until the end. Well, he just finished Wonder by R. J. Palacio. Here is how his friends and classmates feel about it."
I hold the phone out, and the class claps, cheers, hoots, and hollers. 
"That's all, Mrs. Masterson. We just thought you should know. Have a great day.
 The entire conversation lasts less than two minutes. Jeanne learned about it from her daughter's high school math teacher and has done it herself with first graders through middle school students. She said that it doesn't take long before students start letting her know when someone needs similar recognition. "Mrs. Tribuzzi, Yonis just passed his multiplication test. I think you should call his dad."

 So fun! Jeanne said if no one answers, they leave the message on the answering machine.

 If you are looking for a way to bring some good vibes into the busy school year's end, give it a try and see what happens.
Jeanne Tribuzzi and I at the 2014 ASCD conference