It seems like not a day goes by without a new message for school leaders on the importance of communication. School Stream has also blogged extensively about the importance of communication in the past, and you can read some of our key posts here and here. The National Excellence in School Leadership Initiative goes as far to describe effective communication as imperative – particularly in the K-12 education sector where there are multiple stakeholders and across multiple channels.
It seems although old approaches are evolving to reflect the new technologies that are becoming increasingly integrated into school life, the foundations of good communication remain ever relevant. School Stream has scoured the web to share what principals around the world are doing to get their messages across in this brave new world where established practices intersect with new technology.
Sometimes the way things are phrased can make a big difference, as these two principals from US primary schools note in the Education World Principal Files:
‘”One tactic that works well for me is approaching parents from the perspective that we are a team working on behalf of their child. If we begin our tough phone calls and meetings with “I need your help with” that helps to settle hostility before it even appears…’ and ‘I have learned to be sensitive to how articles, and especially requests, are worded. A statement such as “parents must” is always received more poorly than a statement that says “we need parents to.”’
The National Schools Public Relations Association summarises the best advice they have on communication in their article A Principal’s Top 10 list for Successful Communication, which repeats some well-known adages such as ‘communicate early and communicate often’. But they also make the point – albeit a little bossily – about the importance of being clear:
‘Be brief and to the point. Our society is bombarded with messages. In order to get the public’s attention and keep it, you must be brief and to the point. Plan accordingly and practice what you want your message to be no matter what the question is. NEVER use educational jargon… Just say “no” to acronyms! Most people don’t know what they stand for.’
Advice from another US-based school leader combines the best of old and new approaches:
‘Schools need to do a better job of reaching families the way the rest of the world communicates… Social media allows parents, community leaders, politicians, students, and anyone with a story to describe your school’s culture. Are you promoting blended learning, community service, academic highlights, critical thinking, student leadership, and family involvement at your school? If you don’t communicate about your school, someone else will.’
What communication tips would you give another principal? Greg Cross speaks about the effectiveness of using an app such as School Stream to save time. You can read about his experiences here and take a quick 5-minute quiz to see if a mobile communication app would work for your school here.