Phone manners are easy to teach to kids. Nowadays school classrooms have phones, or at least ours do. Kids sitting near the phone are expected to answer it for me and write down the message on a pad. I have better things to do than to stop instructional time to answer the telephone, and kids love picking up the phone and saying distinctly and properly, “Good morning. This is Mr. R’s classroom. How may I help you?” Then there’s this pause as they listen to the person who called and then they reply, “Yes ma’am, I’ll give him the message. And thank you very much for calling.”
Then the kid comes to me and says, “Mr. R., There was a problem on the playground during recess, and Amber is supposed to go to another teacher’s room so they can find out what happened.”
I then ask, “Who was the teacher that called?”
That’s when the kid grimaces and says, “I don’t know.”
“Did they give their name?”
I feel for their embarrassment as I see the blank look on their face and the hardest reply of all, “I think so but I forgot.”
“The next time, make sure you know who it is you are talking to. Ask for their name again if you forget. I can’t send Amber because I don’t know which teacher called me and they will be waiting for me to send Amber but Amber will never arrive at their room. The teacher will think I am rude for not sending her. Remember to get all the information you need. Write it down on the pad next to the phone.”
I always make sure they get more chances to get it right. In a month or two, I have the best phone manners in the school.
The Best Phone Answerer in our classroom last year was Gabriella. I think she may be the Greatest Phone Answerer ever. Her diction is impeccable, and she embellishes my simplistic, recommended speech with some words of her own. “Good morning. This is Mr. R’s classroom. My name is Gabriella and I will be assisting you this morning. How may I be of service?”
I get a kick out of it, and sometimes the kids look up and listen just to hear her do her thing. It’s a short but amazing performance.