According to Forbes, PepsiCo’s CEO, Indra Nooyi, writes positive letters to her employees’ parents. Positive parent communication matters. It effects climate change.
My first year of teaching, I started calling parents to tell them how great their child was. Middle school is quite a transition time for students and parents. I felt like a call home with a positive spin would be reassuring. Parents reacted in a variety of ways. Invariably, the parents of students who had behavior or achievement struggles were humble and appreciative. Often these parents struggled in school too. My positive call, at least momentarily, put aside their thoughts of history repeating itself. It gave them a sense that they and their child had value.
Let’s be honest, CEO Nooyi writes to parents of her direct reports. If you are a direct report to the CEO of PepsiCo, you are not on an RTI watch list. Positive parent communication matters, and Nooyi uses it, because it builds relationships that strengthen the positive climate at work.
When I read about her actions, I recalled the call I made to the mom of a good student. The student performed well, exhibited intrinsic motivation, worked-well with others, etc. Her mother’s response to my contact? Totally choked up. After a minute, she explained that while they knew the child was a “good kid” and they adored her, no teacher had ever called home just to say what a pleasure it was to teach her.
The day after parents received my positive calls, there was always a distinct shift in my classroom climate. Motivation to engage improves – and not just with the students whose parents received calls – but all students.
Our classrooms are not just about the know, but about the know-how. We teach by example when we reach out to parents with a positive message. We teach our middle school students to maintain value in the parent relationship, when they are typically focusing more on peer relationships. We teach them to work with their hearts and their minds. We empower them to effect climate change.