Teach Tip Tuesday: Streamline your parent phone calls

For many teachers one of the most stressful parts of the job can be the need to make numerous phone calls to parents. Phone calls can be time consuming especially if you need to make a number of them at a time. Often the cause of our stress is the unknown, what will the parent say, will their response be positive or negative etc.

This week’s Teach Tip Tuesday focuses on tips to make the process of contacting parents more streamlined and less stressful.

5 Tips to Streamlined Calls to Parents

1. Introduce yourself

Sounds simple right. Every call that you make as a teacher should begin with a formal introduction, it is important not to assume that the parent will recall who you are even if you have had plenty of contact previously. State:

  • Your name
  • The school that you are calling from
  • Who you are calling about
  • Your relationship to the student

For example: Hi my name is Crystal Caton and I am calling from…………………. Is this ……….. I am ……… maths teacher and would like to talk to you about …….. if you have a few moments.

2. Keep calls short and concise.

Calls should be no more than 5 minutes long. If you need to speak with a parent for an extended period of time book a parent meeting. Remember you are calling unannounced and they may not appreciate an extended discussion when they answer.

Don’t try to make 20 phone calls in one afternoon. Pick a few each day until you have gotten through your list.

3.  Be clear about the reasons for your call.

The biggest contributor to extended parent calls is getting off track from the purpose of your call. Ensure that you are focused on the key reason that you are calling, try not to deviate too far from this to ensure that the call is short.

Prior to making your call consider if you are:

  • Calling to advise
  • Calling to discuss
  • Calling for advice

Focusing on your purpose can keep the call short.

4. Keep a record of your call

Most schools have requirements about how contacts are to be stored and recorded.

As a minimum ensure that you diarize your conversation and make a couple of dot points just in case you need to refer to it later during a followup phone call or meeting.

5. Talk to upset parents at a later time

Sometimes phone calls to parents don’t go the way that we planned or hoped. Try your best to retrieve your phone call if it is going off track but if it isn’t working try to schedule a better time for a discussion.

Example:

“I can hear that you may be a little busy, would you like me to call back at a more convenient time?”

“Perhaps it would be more convenient to discuss the issue with …. tomorrow?”

“Would you like me to schedule an appointment at school?”

Never stay on the phone with a parent that is not treating you with respect. Politely interject with something like: “I think it would be best if we discussed this another time”. If the parent continues to be disrespectful hangup and record the conversation as per the manner above. (Note: This is not common, the majority of parents react in the way that you expect but you should always be prepared for ones that don’t.)

What are your tips for handling phone calls home to parents? How do you keep your calls short to help manage your time? Please post in the comments below or on our facebook page.

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About cmcaton

I am a Secondary Teacher and Head of Department Mathematics in Education Queensland. I am passionate about the development of pedagogy that engages the 21st century student and love to explore their implementation in the classroom. Disclaimer: The thoughts on this page are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.
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