Low-Tech Communication Tools
A good, functional phone system can work wonders with your school-home communications. Optimally, every classroom should have a phone with voice mail at the teacher’s desk, so the teacher can access their grade books, attendance sheets, discipline stats, assessment data, and other important information. Other effective communications solutions include e-mail and websites.
Reading Student Data
As Mark Twain famously quipped, “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics.” That’s why more school officials are turning to data dashboards and other Web-based business tools to make sure the data they’re relying on is as balanced as possible.
Writing With Your Audience in Mind
Writing clearly is an art form. Unfortunately, it’s one that few of us in education have mastered. Rather than use everyday terms, we use jargon and acronyms. Somewhere, deep inside, we have to know better. So why do we write such convoluted prose?
Communicating During Difficult Times
Parents and teachers don’t want—or deserve—spin. They want the truth. When you are making tough budget decisions, open, honest, and forthright communication is the only strategy that works. Let parents and the public know what's at stake, and give them the opportunity to weigh in on decisions.
Ways to Engage the Faith Community in Your Schools
The faith community is a community yearning to get involved in the public schools but not knowing how, or worse, not feeling welcome. While faith leaders need to know how to partner in a way that doesn't violate students' First Amendment rights, principals and school personnel need to learn how to create a more welcoming environment for volunteers.
Garnering Positive Media Coverage
As a small business complete with a chief executive officer, an executive team, dozens of employees, and hundreds of clients, every school has multiple stories to tell. The job of the public relations team is to find these stories, and then package and sell them to reporters.
Why Talking to the Public Matters
School boards still fail to invest adequately in school communications. Some fear alienating taxpayers and teachers. Others feel constrained by dwindling funds. A few don't think communicating with employees, parents, and the public is all that important. Given today's pressure-cooker demands on public schools, spending more on communications pays important dividends.
Tips on Talking to the Public About School Controversy
Knowing when -- and how -- to respond to unfair, untrue, or derogatory public attacks is often difficult for school districts. Struggling to create nonpartisan unity in a highly charged and often hostile partisan political environment, school officials must choose their battles carefully. Choosing when, where, how, and how much to respond is a strategic decision.
Dealing with Sensitive Personnel Matters
Criminal and unsavory acts by school personnel are tough to deal with from a communications perspective. Sharing enough information to keep parents, staff, and the media satisfied without violating student and employee privacy rights is a tough balancing act. Say too little, and people fill in the blanks with something much worse than the truth. Say too much, and the district might wind up in court.
Changing to Pay-For-Performance Requires Communication Reform
Few issues in education ignite more passion than compensation reform, which seeks to tie at least a portion of teacher pay to specific performance measures. School boards and public school parents generally embrace the notion of paying more to educators who produce greater learning gains or tackle tougher assignments in high-need schools, but classroom teachers are more skeptical—at least initially.
Talking to Your Community About Test Scores
For many parents, making sense out of their child’s test scores is like trying to understand the tax code. They know they have to deal with it; they just don’t want to. To market your schools effectively, you need to find ways to talk about test scores that don’t make parents feel like they need a doctoral degree or a foreign language translator.