This is an article in the Total Teacher Transformation series. Click here for a complete table of contents.
Face it, misbehavior has been around only slightly longer than behavior has been. As teachers, we are often expected to fill every possible role in the lives of the students. Unfortunately, that can’t always happen. Sometimes our control and influence over the actions of the students is limited.
Every teacher has students who misbehave from time to time.
One of the things that revolutionized my teaching was to realize that most of the parents really wanted to help me help their child be successful. Most parents also have no real idea of how their children really act.
To really get through to the students, I found it was very effective to pick up the phone and call a parent. Don’t do this when you’re mad or upset, because that is likely to carry through in your tone of voice across the phone, but make sure you call.
I generally have the students call, them tell their parent what they did to get in trouble, what the consequences will be, and all that. I then have them hand me the phone when they were finished talking and clarify a few things with the parent. I do this in a calm voice and just very clearly talk about the unacceptable behavior, why it is unacceptable, and try to help them understand more if necessary.
They generally thank me for letting them know, and ask to speak to their child. I assume they then tell the kid how much they have embarrassed them, and the behavior problem is usually resolved right then and there. It’s a great sense of control when you realize that the simple act of communication with the parent can weild such powerful results.
It also keeps you from bugging the administrators with something that generally should be handled in house.
Clarify to your students that any misbehavior may result in phone calls home. Then if one happens, feel free to make it happen. The younger your students are, the more effective a phone call home will be. But what parent of a 16-year-old wants to know that their son who wants to borrow the car this weekend is talking back to a teacher? You’ll be surprised by the effectiveness at pretty much all levels.
Setting this clear expectation will be a positive step toward reestablishing power and control of your classroom. And when the classroom is out of control, that is exactly what you need to do!