It's Monday night. Here I sit in my PJs with my gradebook up-to-date. I decide to reward myself.
I open the student contact file on my computer along-side my gradebook and pic a student who's doing well in class. I look up the number, dial and wait.
The voice on the other end clearly does not recognize my Floridian number on caller ID.
"This is Mr. Chase," says I, "Milana's English teacher."
"Yes..." a clearly uncertain pause.
"I was just calling to let you know how great it is to have your daughter as part of our class. She's one I can count on for insightful comments, and I'm impressed by how hard she's working on the Quarter 3 benchmark project."
The conversation goes on for a few minutes more. We talk about how I joined SLA after the year started - that's why she doesn't remember meeting me. We joke about keeping the call between the two of us so as not to inspire false confidence in her daughter.
Before we hang up, though, she says, "I don't know if this something you do personally as a teacher or what, but keep it up. This is one of the best phone calls I've gotten in a long time."
It's the best way to end a Monday I know.
When I was in Florida, I tried to make two positive phone calls home before I went home each day. I developed the habit after Hal Urban spoke at my first school.
Much can be said about setting the tone with parents, building relationships, etc.
That's part of why I do it, but it's not the bigger why.
I make those phone calls home because it makes me feel better. I make those phone calls because it pushes me, everyday, to look at the best of my students. In the hectic frenzy of any given school day, the least I can do is make certain I catch the best of my students.
No matter what happened before, the words, "This is one of the best phone calls I've gotten in a long time," made this a good Monday.