Effective communication is vital for any organization, and schools are no exception. In fact, communication is arguably more critical in schools because it affects the well-being and academic success of students. From communicating with parents to collaborating with colleagues, educators must master various communication strategies to achieve their goals and create a positive learning environment.
1. Target Audience
Before communicating, it is important to understand your intended audience. Are you communicating with staff, parents, students, management, or the community? Each stakeholder group will be interested in specific topics or need unique information.
For example, imagine you are a principal of a school, and the water has been shut off. A local water district is working on the problem, but they needed to close off areas of the street to get to the leak that caused the water to be shut off. Each stakeholder group will need different information based on how this incident affects them.
Need information that their child is safe
Aware of solutions for their child such as water bottles and alternative bathrooms for students
Early or late dismissal information
Information about what happened and the estimated time of when it will be fixed
Alternatives for staff and students
Disruption to the school schedule
Point of contact for challenges that arise
The fact that the water was shut off
Alternatives for using the bathroom
Alternatives for accessing drinking water
Information about what happened and the estimated time of when it will be fixed (in case other schools are affected)
Steps taken to limit disruption
Updated course of action
Breakdown of event for administrators to communicate to the Governing Board
Information about road closures
Increased presence at the school (to help dispel rumors)
2. Using the Right Platform
Knowing your families' and communities' communication preferences is essential. For instance, your parents may prefer email or text messages, or they may prefer apps such as Class Dojo or Remind. Your community may prefer specific social media platforms such as Facebook (maybe a specific Facebook group), Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Bonus Tip: Follow other government agencies on social media platforms so you can share their updates with your social media audiences.
Communication to stakeholders includes various topics, such as events, volunteer opportunities, new programs and supports, general news, safety updates, expectations for students and parents, etc.
It is vital to know your families' preferences and the information they want to be informed of and how often. You can use analytics such as email open rates, click rates for buttons in a newsletter, page analytics, etc., to ensure your families feel informed and connected to your school.
Most people do not read communications word-for-word. People tend to scan the information provided and rely on headlines to get the information they need.
Consider the following when writing online content (email, website):
Use headers (large, bolded text) to break up themes covered in your communication.
Use short sentences and short paragraphs to make scanning easier.
Utilize lists and bullet points to provide important information quickly.
Optimize for mobile devices. Most people access information on their phones. If they cannot easily read the information, they will not read the message at all.
Effective communication is a vital skill for all educators, and it can help achieve professional goals while positively impacting their students' lives. By implementing the communication strategies outlined in this article, educators can build strong relationships with their stakeholders, increase engagement, and foster a positive school culture. Remember, the power of communication lies in its ability to connect people and inspire positive change. Start using these strategies today and see the impact it can make in your school community!