In the evolving world of education, there are some things that never change. Like good news.
There is a boy in my class who is almost never on time. About once a day, I have to remind him that he cannot say the F WORD in school. Last semester, he turned in exactly 0 assignments all year. He gets called to the office quite often for riding office chairs through the hallway and looking at the wrong websites on his school laptop. I have a really cool record player in my classroom. Kids could put on a record from my collection during project work-time or silent reading. It was this awesome, ancient object that they treated like a mysterious magical machine that could transport them back to a different age.
This kid threw a kickball at it and broke the arm off as well as the Led Zeppelin II record that was playing.
And then the other day, the class was having a discussion about some Enlightenment philosophers, and I asked a broad question to the class. This boy picked his head up from his desk, and for the first time this year, raised his hand. He asked if he could write his response on the board, which he proceeded to do.
And it was brilliant.
So brilliant, that I felt I needed to call his mom and let her know what he said in class.
It went something like this:
" Hi, this is Mr. Muir, I am ___________'s teacher."
"Oh God, what did he do now?"
"Oh no! I just want to call and celebrate what he said in class today. It was incredible, and I don't think I've heard a student say something so profound before. I thought you should know."
"Please tell _________ that I am proud of him and that I would love to hear this kind of stuff from him more often."
-A little more silence, and then-
"Mr Muir... I'm not used to these kinds of calls. Thank you so much. He really is a good kid. I'm glad you noticed."
-Then she cried a little-
To make that phone call, I had to dedicate 2 minutes of my afternoon.
That mother needed affirmation that she is a good mother. That whatever demons her son is facing, (and I know about some of them, they are mean), he is still good a boy. He is still smart. And intuitive. And creative.
This simple phone call carried more weight and impact than I could have ever imagined.
And that boy came to school the next day standing a little taller. For once he showed up on time. He still dropped an F-bomb in class, and I had to talk to him about it.
But he also raised his hand again when I asked the class a question.
No matter what develops in the world of education, the power of calling home to report good news is one of those things that never changes.