Providing effective school communication to the parent community is a vital component of a being a principal. When done effectively, communication is a reciprocal relationship. Families are able to learn about their child and have a voice in the student’s educational development. Educators are able to provide information, give strategies to support students’ development, and gain information shared by parents. Ultimately, solid communication should yield an open environment where communication is welcomed to help stimulate involvement of all stakeholders to help students feel supported to have a successful experience. However, it is essential to make sure that communication is timely, relevant, and predictable.
Regular School Communication
Regular school communication begins with the classroom teachers via websites, classroom happenings and student work. Those communications focus on a specific classroom or child. From the principal, the focus should be to inform on school happenings such as celebrations of school-wide achievements, notification of information regarding classroom happenings or curricular initiatives, reminders of school policies, or other relevant information.
Each Thursday, we email a whole school news brief via email that highlights upcoming events, special happenings and other relevant information so the community knows what to expect for their children at school. We try to limit the information to fit on a cell phone screen, as through meetings with families, many remarked that they prefer not to swipe down or open another document. In addition, I typically send out a longer email every couple of weeks. This isn’t as regulated, as the topics range greatly depending on what I want to highlight. This is also done through email from my direct email address. That way, parents have an easy way to communicate with me by replying.
Social Media Communications
With the excess of social media, we do have a Twitter account, our PTO has a Facebook account, and teachers have Instagram or use the Remind app. However, in order to keep expectations simple, we also use the weekly email as our foundation. Parents have these other resources to gain information on school, which adds to our ability to reach out to parents. The beauty of social media is the ability to utilize pictures, so parents can see what exactly is occurring during the day.
The notion of communication being a two-way source is important. We used to keep robust web pages, but learned that our community only visits the website for specific information, so we kept our web pages more static. The influx of cell phones has limited us to keeping things succinct and predictable, while social media is used for spontaneous posts or photographs. Although it is important to have and promote the essential method by which a school will impart information, you still need to be flexible and adapt with the times.
Each correspondence is an opportunity to inform, celebrate and market the school in the most positive light. Having a systematic approach will allow a principal to best reach their community to share the wonderful things happening in a school. When clear and concise messages occur, the more opportunities the entire community has to be unified.