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School communication: It takes a village

School communication: It takes a village

Are you considering all voices for your school's/district's communication efforts?

Having a solid communication plan for your district is (or should be) a key part of your overall strategy. But before enacting it, do you consider others' thoughts and ideas on how to best share your schools' news, or do you just take the wheel and drive? If you are not listening to other voices throughout the district, please make a concerted effort to do so. This means listening to students, staff, classroom teachers, school leaders, board members, parents and community supporters. It's a hefty task to be sure, but it's so important that your communication is diverse, incorporates a wide perspective of voices and that it consistently addresses all areas of your district. For example, consider the following questions:

  • Does everyone involved in your school district (see list above) know your mission and vision?
  • Is everyone clear on your goals for the year (district-wide and for their specific school)?
  • Do you listen to students about their (realistic) ideas for what would make their school a more exciting and engaging place to learn?
  • Do you provide parents an avenue to list their requests on how much/what kind of information they would like to receive, through which outlets and how often they would like to receive it?
  • Are your staff members happy in their roles? Do they feel they can, for example, communicate displeasure with a process without the fear of retaliation?
  • And a bit of a fun one: Do you ever share out historical information about your district? While it's not necessary, it can be pretty neat, especially if your district has been around a long time, to share old photos of buildings and stories about the people who came before. It's important to remember where your district came from and how it got to where it is today. This also helps bring the community together and excite the older folks who perhaps attended your schools as children but who might not have as strong of ties to the district as they once did.

One easy way to ensure participation from any and all stakeholders is to create an online survey. This would allow them to either identify themselves or remain anonymous and provide praise, critiques, ask questions or provide suggestions or specific ideas to improve any or all aspects of your schools. As an alternative, place a physical suggestion box  somewhere easily locatable on your campuses to ensure those who prefer not to submit online also have a voice.

The point here is that you want to make sure you keep everyone informed of the fun AND the important things going on within your district. You want--but you also need--your community (internal with staff and students and external with parents and others) to support your efforts, including potential bond proposals, fund raisers and efforts that require all hands on deck. Those who believe in what you are doing will be your biggest supporters and will use their own platforms to help deliver your message far and wide. Effectively and regularly communicating keeps them energized, engaged and informed, which translates into support--financial and otherwise.

Let us know how we can help!

Sarah Julian

Director, Communications

Sarah serves as the Director of Communications for the OPSRC. In this role, she provides support, consultation and training on a variety of critical tools and PR functions, including communication plans, social media policies, crisis communications, media relations and website content.

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