Saturday, April 28, 2012

The power of using Parents in the #flipclass

I guess this post should probably be titled "The power of using parents...anytime" because I probably should have used this tool even before I started flipping my class.

Our school has somewhat of a "parent phone call policy" where teachers are pretty much required to call home once a student has missed two or three assignments in the class.  This generally gets annoying, as it takes time from my conference period making phone calls for irresponsible students.

Here's what I've tried this week, and in one week, it's worked wonders.  I'm highly contemplating doing this from the beginning of next year, and then hopefully it won't really need to be done that much anymore!

I posted last week about what I had done last Friday, and I continued doing that all week.  Any student that did not complete their WSQ (Watch the video, answer the Summary questions, and write their own Question) had to call home and tell their parents this:

"Hi _____, this is ______.  I'm calling from my math class because I am not prepared for class today.  I didn't ________________ (watch the video, complete my WSQ, etc).  I didn't do it because _____________________.  I could have come in during the morning, during seminar, or during lunch to watch it in Mrs. Kirch's class before class began, but I didn't"

The parents usually have questions at that point, and I can get on the phone and clarify any concerns, talk about the student's grade, behavior, or any other concerns that I have.  The student has to stay right next to me when I am talking with the parent.  Sometimes, the parent asks to talk to the student again after I am done.

I was a little concerned about doing this at first because of the time it takes me away from the students who actually came prepared and need my help.  However, the students have gotten very good at working with each other and asking each other questions.  Also, although the first two days I did this I had to make 8-10 phone calls in some classes (make a call, walk around and help, make a call, walk around and help, etc), by the end of the week it was 1-2 students a class and really didn't impede on supporting the other students.

I chose to do this because when my students come unprepared, it is 95% of the time not because of access to technology - it is because of laziness and the choice to not do it at home because "I'll just do it when I get to school".   One student does not have consistent internet at home and we had to call on Friday because he did not have the video watched.  So, we set up a plan for him to borrow a flash drive on Monday from me to get the videos for the rest of the chapter.  He forgot to ask for the flash drive.  So we called again on Tuesday, and he had to explain how it was his responsibility to ask for the flash drive and he forgot.

So, what about those parents who aren't available by phone during the class period?  The student had to write a letter home during class, show it to me, and bring it back signed the next day.  Depending on the student, we may have followed that up with a phone call as well.

I really liked this for several reasons:
1. It puts the responsibility on the students for everything, like it should be with homework completion.
2. It doesn't take away from my planning time to make discipline phone calls.
3. It makes the students admit to the parents what they did and have that conversation immediately (and sometimes right in front of me)
4. It encourages the students to do their homework instead of being lazy and putting it off because they don't want to get in trouble with their parents.

Sometimes we forget that our students are still teenagers, and getting parents involved is a great way to keep them on track.

Here are some student comments on having to call parents:

  • I actually like this because it informs the parent that the student didn't do their homework.  Now, the parent will keep an eye on the student if they do their homework
  • yikes. Please don't pull such mean tricks on us again. Though I was not affected because I continuously try to complete the WSQs to the best of my ability.
  • Well I did not have to call my parents, but I think this affected me just to always do my homework and stay on task.  I think it is a good idea for students who don't do their homework to call their parents because it lets them know that their child isn't doing what they need to be doing.  In that case, now parents can ask what is for homework every night. 
  • I didn't have to call home but I think this is a good thing to do that way students are forced to do their homework...unless they want to call home which i know no one wants to do
  • I believe this motivated me to finish homework on time, but luckily I already do that.  This just showed me the consequences and made me realize that I should never slack off.
  • If i had to call my parents, i wouldn't like it but i guess that could also set me straight.
  • It didn't affect me much in the work ethic part of class, because I am usually on top of my work, even if I turn it in at lunch. It did show me how much you care for us to succeed in you class though, well on top of what you already do.
  • It scared me every time I thought I forgot something at home. :)  I thought it was very effective though because it meant people couldn't slack off without getting some kind of consequence.
  • It made me learn my lesson. I actually like it.
  • It made me want to complete my WSQ/Hmwrk no matter what! i don't want to stress out my parents or have them worry, or worse get in trouble. BUT it is good that they do get more involved.


  1. I think this is a fantastic idea. Does your school have a policy on calling parents in front of other students? I would like to implement this idea but am afraid of student complaints about having this issued "aired" in front of others.

    1. My school does not have a policy that I know of. My phone is in the corner of the room by a door and the rest of the students are on task working in groups so it isn't really "aired" that publicly, in my opinion. (If a student wanted to step right outside out of public view, they could do that) If it was a discipline phone call, I would do that after class... but something such as showing up without homework done I don't see an issue with, since that is public knowledge anyways throughout the class period - it's just being taken a step further now with a phone call.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...