It doesn’t hurt each year to take a fresh look at our communication strategies.
Research tells us that parents and the public care about safety, order, the mastery of skills and the ability of our students to compete in a global marketplace. Getting ready for the new school year isn’t just about buying clothes and supplies on the part of the parents and making sure the classrooms are clean and ready for the students on the part of school leaders. A successful school year requires a good communication plan that works for the school, parents, students and the community.
Chatting with some parents over the weekend at the Solano County Fair board dinner in Vallejo, they put good home and school communication as solid indicators for a successful school year. All had stories to share about no communication, missed communication, poor teachers, and not-so-user-friendly administrators. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t share that the parents also gave high grades to many teachers, administrators and other school staff that their children had or now have.
One of the biggest challenges for today’s school leaders is to find effective communication strategies to meet the needs of all of their constituents. Author Joyce Epstein once wrote that there are three spheres of influence in which students learn and grow: the family, the school and the community. “Good communication is critical to the way the community looks at what we do in our schools. Perception is everything.” Epstein wrote.
Many of our schools and businesses, as well, could do a better job of communicating with their customers, hence better customer satisfaction. And yes, make no mistake about it; students and parents are our customers.
But communication is a two-way street; parents also need a plan each year to communicate with the school and with their own children. Some parents have shared horror stories with me over the years about communication or the lack of communication with the schools. But having served as a principal for many years, I could share any number of stories about the lack of parent communication plans as well.
Good communication is an ongoing process; that’s why it’s important for all parties to keep frequent communication going between school and home all year long.
Several years ago, the Southwest Educational Laboratory offered some communication strategies that are still worth noting.
These pointers that deal with community communication are not new but are also worth repeating.
Good communication takes hard work and, of course, we can’t control everything. But we can work together to build a reputation for good communication with truthfulness, transparency and reliability. That sense of goodwill based on reputation can go a long way when things are not going well.
Mayrene Bates is a trustee on the Solano County board of education. Reach her by email at [email protected]