I loved Friday afternoons. This might be crazy, but I loved them because that was the time I would set aside to call parents of misbehaving students. The kids knew I called home on Fridays and they knew they were likely to get grounded for the weekend, so that’s why I called on Friday afternoons. It wasn’t easy, though. I usually had anywhere from 5 to 15 calls to make. Sometimes it would take me over an hour to get them all done. But it was so worth it (and not just because I knew I was ruining someone’s weekend…) because I kept behavior issues under wraps. It was also important for my paper trail. The kids whose parents I spoke with shaped up quickly, but the students whose parents I (routinely) couldn’t get in touch with had no reason to change. It was for these kids that I called home every Friday (or every other Friday at least). I had to document that I was making a good-faith effort to get in touch with the family. The administration wasn’t going to support my referral on a kid that I hadn’t called home for. It was so hard to keep track of all the calls, though. When did I call? Who did I talk to? Did I leave a message? Did anyone call me back? Did I try more than one number? Why did I even need to call? It was a nightmare. I realized I had to come up with an organized way to log all the calls I was doing in order to make them as useful as possible. After creating and using a variety of forms, and my life got easier. I was able to get my Friday phone blasts done in less time, and the administration was always impressed with my paper trail. Most of all, the behavior problems in my classes stayed at a minimum. Kids knew I would call home and then they would get a referral. It deterred most students from causing problems, and for those it didn’t, they ended up in ISS or OSS. Calling parents is one of the most important steps a teacher can take to keep decorum in their classes. Early in the year, I would have my cell phone out and ready to go, and that “one kid” who thought s/he was going to be a smart-ass and pull something the very first week was warned (which, of course, did no good) and then I turned on my phone and called home. Right there. In the middle of class. If I was feeling particularly vicious, I would turn it on speaker. Then all the kids knew. It spread like a disease. Mrs. Moody calls home. She means it. You better not piss her off.
So call home. Call often. Make sure your kids know you care enough to get all up in their business. And keep track of your calls. It will be worth it in the end.