Think about how much time you spend organizing your school communication efforts with parents and teachers. You’re likely maintaining email lists, sending home lots of forms and files, creating signup sheets, calling parents, sending one-off text messages, and more. Of course there is Facebook and Twitter now too. There really is a lot of communication that needs to take place and schools spend a LOT of time managing how they communicate. So how are you doing? Well here are 3 signs that you could improve your school communication.
1. Parents Ask the Same Questions Over and Over
At my church our Youth Ministries Director, Curt, says this to all the parents: “You can call me. You can email me and even text me…but first…check the hub.” He’s referring to that ministry’s private group in their private online community. You see, he keeps the details of everything with the youth ministry there. The files, the forms, the calendar, signups and more…all in one place where everyone knows to go for the latest information. Do you have that one central location where all information is shared? Does everyone know where it is? How easy is it to update it and how good are you about keeping it fresh?
2. You’re Not Sure How Parents Feel about Your Communication Efforts
As a parent of young children in early education we talk to other parents a lot about kids and schools. One of the recurring comments I hear from other parents is that they are not satisfied with their kid’s school communication efforts. In one case some parents/friends of mine moved their kids to another school that was in a much less convenient location to their home because they became fed up with the poor communication and disorganized efforts to rally parent involvement. That’s unfortunate. Good thing it’s never too late to start communicating better!
Definitely the first step to addressing school communication woes is to let parents know you care. This can be done by simply asking them for feedback on communication at your school. Create an online survey with SurveyMonkey.com, Wufoo.com, or Google Forms. Pick up the phone and call parents and speak to them about it when you see them. Then take the feedback and document just how you’re going to improve with a school communication plan.
3. Your School Lacks a Communication Plan
Whenever I speak with a school director for the first time in regards to school communication, I usually ask how they communicate with parents and teachers. Quite often the response is “We just use email.” Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself right now, “Yep so what’s wrong with that?” Well there’s nothing wrong with email, it’s just the way we use it sometimes. Email is the medium through which we communicate, but it’s a tool and can be used with great efficiency or it can be misused and actually hinder communication. If the only way you communicate with parents is by sending an email from your personal email address, then how can parents easily digest and prioritize those emails? And what if your parents don’t check email that often? Can you hit them all with a text message? What about Facebook, are they on it all day?
When it comes to communication some parents want a phone call, some just email. Others really want text messages and still others might appreciate it if the school was on Twitter. Effective communication plans always involve the use of multiple mediums and there are types of messages that are more effective on different mediums (think about emergency situations).
How many communication channels are you using and which are you most effective with? Do you have a plan with your communication efforts?