It’s that time of year in the field of education where everything just feels harder. The groundhog was right and the cold is definitely sticking around, the kids are getting antsy, we’re tired and the snow days are piling up. 

Now is not the time to take on complicated endeavors. But how about an intervention that one teacher describes as so low-level that it shouldn’t even count as an intervention? Doable? The intervention is called, Positive Parent Contact (Fefer, 2020) and it is about as easy as it gets. Preliminary outcomes show that this simple change increases student engagement and positive relationships with parents/caregivers. Sample scripts, detailed directions on implementation and more information about why student engagement and positive relationships with families are important can be found in this folder.

How can I incorporate this into my practice?   

  • Think about one or more students in your classroom who is struggling with challenging behavior.  It’s helpful to start small and get in the habit of positive parent contact before doing this for too many students.   
  • Present their parents/guardians with a few options of forms of communication that you are willing to use (e.g., phone calls, email, text, in-person conversations).  Ask the parent/guardian to choose the best communication method for them (out of your acceptable options).  This will ensure that the method of communication is mutually preferred by teachers and families.   
  • Add at least two weekly “positive shout-outs” to the parent of guardian of the target student using the preferred communication method (see example scripts on the next page).    
  • These contacts can be different every week but should remain positive. Additionally, you can connect shout-outs to the school’s PBIS expectations, if possible.  
  • This intervention does not require any other modifications to classroom practices, and parents are not asked to do anything differently.   
  • If possible, teachers should keep a log to monitor the number of times they reach out to parents and the number of times that parents/guardians respond to the positive shout outs. (Fefer, 2020)

    Fefer, S., Hieneman, M., *Virga, C., *Thoma, A., & *Donnelly, M. (2020). Evaluating the effect of positive parent contact on elementary students’ on-task behavior. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 22(4), 234-245. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098300720908009