Thursday, January 15, 2009

Phone Home

To read stories about KIPP, one would think it remarkable that teachers give kids their phone numbers. I started doing that in the 1970's. I should have patented the idea and make KIPP pay me royalties.

On the first day of school every year, I sent home a fact sheet with my phone number.

I immediately established a sense of trust with parents. Of course in those days, not everyone had phones. Well, it depended on whether I had the top class (85% with phones) or the bottom (35% without). That alone sort of tells you something about poverty and school. But that's another story for another time.

You know something? They almost never used it. Mostly it was kids who wanted to say "Hi."

Well, not always. I had one girl in the 6th grade – a tiny kid named Beatrice. It was a Friday. While picking up the kids after lunch, my AP did or said something to annoy me. I retaliated in some stupid way that led to his screaming at Beatrice. That night the phone rang and when I picked it up I heard sobbing. It was Beatrice. "Mr. Scott. How could you do that to me?" Before I could answer, she hung up.

I was depressed the entire weekend. I don't know if she ever felt the same about me again, but I treated her like gold from then on.

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