One of the most powerful sequences in a teaching movie that I have ever seen was in ‘Dangerous Minds‘. The teacher tries to ring home and can’t because the family’s phone was disconnected. So, she goes over to the house. The parents are crushed, a teacher coming to their house to complain about their son… and she tells them how good he is and how proud of him she is.
The scene gets me every time, not that the film as a whole doesn’t have a lot of problems, but that scene… It changed everything for me.
I was in my second year of teaching and struggling. All my line manager would say was “have you tried ringing the parents?” if I asked for help. And in a couple of cases, I was sure that my telephone call led to child abuse which put me in a terrible bind. After seeing that film, I changed what I was doing completely.
Contacting home to share good news became part of my teaching repertoire and there were major knockon effects for how things went in my classroom.
I have blogged before about how I use Classdojo to reinforce the positive behaviours I see in my class. In fact, it’s working so well that I am going to change the behaviours that are rewarded, to freshen things up.
Now they have a new feature where I can use the existing database of parental accounts so that I can contact home without having to find out email addresses (or give mine out). This works for me. Just making it easier for me to get in touch will mean I am far more likely to actually do it.
Looking forward to trying it out with my class.