10 Ways to Communicate About Your School

Recently, on a Twitter feed, I saw the quote: Communication is 100% of what a principal does.

Photo credit: SidVicious08

Although this may seem like an exaggeration, I believe it is true of almost all educators, especially school leaders.

This past weekend, I was attending a school event, when a parent stopped me to say thanks for a recent group email I had sent. Then another parent stopped me and said the same. Then I received a nice thank-you email the next day too.

Believe me, I still get lots emails, phone calls, and visits about concerns, but it is refreshing to also receive positive feedback from parents. And I am convinced this doesn’t happen by accident.

When it comes to communication, there is no silver bullet, but there are many tools you can use. Based on the practices at my school, here is a list of 10 ways you can keep those lines of positive communication open with your parents, students, and community:

1. Group Email to Parents
This is by far one of the most popular means of communication I have used. One of my tech-savvy assistant principals showed me how to filter through our data information system for all parent emails. I also have a collection of addresses I gathered from ones teachers have shared with me. Once a week I try to send out a newsy email about school happenings. If you do this, place the parent email addresses in the Bcc tab to protect privacy.

2. Daily announcements
There are lots of ways to do daily announcements. We try to keep our over-the-speaker ones to a minimum amount of time. Instead we post a full list as a powerpoint that runs in our commons all day on a big-screen monitor. My secretary also emails the daily bulletin to teachers, parents and students who request to receive it.

3. Newsletters
If you can, dedicate one person to receive all emails about student/teacher successes. We have a teacher with an elective hour dedicated to producing a newsletter that is posted online, and we print copies to keep in offices for guests to see.

4. Website headlines
Keep news updated on your website. Our district technology director will post special announcements and/or student highlights on the website homepage. Teachers with their own websites can have their web addresses linked to our school page too.

5. Teacher emails
This is one of the easiest ways to communicate information to everyone at once. Not only do I email my teachers regularly, but many of them send out weekly communications to parents. Some of them use Remind101, Twitter, or Edmodo as quick ways to text reminders to students too.

6. Being visible
Want people to know you support them? Be in hallways, classrooms, and at special events, games, and community gatherings. It means a lot to students, parents, teachers, and patrons.

7. Students of the month
Have your teachers nominate and vote on a boy and girl from each grade. Our students receive certificates and get their photos shared via our multiple media options. The students love the recognition and their parents do too.

8. Celebrations
Be creative in making a big deal about success. We host an annual breakfast for all students who are successful in state exams, celebrate teacher birthdays once a month with cake in the teacher lounge, recognize student achievement at spirit assemblies, and make announcements when great things happen–to name a few ways to celebrate.

9. Networking
Whether it is blogging, professional associations, or agreeing to speak or present at an area conference, you don’t just represent yourself. You are also an ambassador for your school or organization. Don’t be afraid to talk to fellow school leaders and others about what’s happening at your school. It’s encouraging and motivating.

10. Posting calendars online
Keep your school calendar on the school website as well as the district calendar. It is a helpful resource for anyone wanting to know what’s happening at the school.

Of the responsibilities school leaders manage, each requires communicating in some capacity. Whether it is parent relations, teacher observations/evaluations, student relations, staff leadership, community involvement, networking or even doing state reports–all require engaging others, showing appreciation, working as a team, celebrating successes, or giving helpful feedback. And people appreciate it.

When you are intentional about keeping people informed, they will value and appreciate the great things happening in your school. And it will keep you excited and focused on the positives, not just the challenges of school leadership.

Now It’s Your Turn:
What are some of your favorite tools for communicating with your teachers, students, fellow teammates, parents, patrons or clients? Share them with the rest of us!

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker