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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Are you really communicating with your school community?

Are you really communicating with your school community, or just shoveling information at them? Some principals make the mistake of confusing true communication with raw facts. Most stakeholders won’t respond to your words unless you understand this important distinction:

• Information is unrefined material. Facts are the foundation of communication, not the final product. Information doesn’t become communication until it’s received and understood. Otherwise, stakeholders won’t know what to do with the news you’ve given them.

• Communication connects facts with action. True communication has to produce a response, either emotional or intellectual. How do you know when this connection has been made? Simple. Ask for feedback. If the individual doesn’t have anything to say, then communication very likely hasn’t taken place.

A challenge is the volume of school communication that families receive. Streamlining information and the ability to select preferred method is key to the success and finding the balance between parents who want more communication and those who feel we inundate them with too much info and reminders can be a challenging task. Trying to change the Mindset of having everyone understand communication is more than just a homework reminder or calendar update takes time. We can do this by building positive relationships using communication of expectations for students.

Effective school communication looks like informing who needs it and sharing special moments with the school community such as, changes in schedule, reminders, photos and videos of interesting things during the day. However, if the community produces a response then communication can be measured.

Over past few years I have found myself using tools such as Remind, Twitter, and Blogs as the communication tool in my school community. We can ask for replies instantly, message, or a chat response.  Educating your community on how to use these tools work is part of the communication that requires you to deliver.

My school community has moved forward in small steps with these tools and each of the success are reason to celebrate. 

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