If you weren't aware prior to COVID just how important consistent, accurate communication can and must be for schools, you've most certainly learned it this past year! School and district teams have required constant contact during transitions between in-person and remote learning and potential quarantine events. You've also had to keep families and caregivers apprised of changing schedules, meal pick-up times and a slew of other details. Whether you are a school or district leader or a classroom teacher, communication has never been more critical. So as we move toward the end of this school year and begin planning for what's to come, please consider the following when thinking about your ongoing communications:
- Evaluate what has worked and what hasn't. If you spent a hefty amount of time on a newsletter that few people actually opened, you might want to consider another way to share news. Your time is precious, so don't waste it creating something that doesn't get seen.
- Poll families and stakeholders. To build on the first bullet point, if you aren't sure which channels your families and stakeholders prefer to receive information through, ask! Create a simple Google Forms survey to help you determine how to best reach the majority, how often they want to receive information and what kinds of news they want to hear about (in addition to emergency notifications).
- Consider other tools you might have resisted before. If you have hesitated, for example, using Facebook to reach your families just because you aren't familiar with it and are perhaps intimidated by it, rethink your fears. If it's a communication outlet your stakeholders prefer, it may be time to jump in and learn. But that's what we are here for. If you aren't familiar with a particular tool, let me know, and we can set up some time to get you set up. Your public will thank you for it.
- Consider what is realistic and ask for help if needed. If time is an issue but you know your public prefers communications through a certain tool, consider if you have a trusted staff member who you could ask to assist. It's a good rule anyway to have at least one other trusted person on staff who has access to deliver information in case you are not available when something needs to go out.
- Don't give up, and reach out! School teams are overwhelmed and stressed to the max--there is no question. Add learning a new communication tool or trying to share out timely, accurate information in a pandemic, and it can be a recipe for wanting to crawl in bed and never come out. Just remember: the tools you use to communicate and the way you present the information do NOT have to be fancy--especially right now. Think foremost on providing timely, accurate information. Creative videos or cute emojis should not be a priority; please don't beat yourself up if you just don't have the energy or creativity right now to include anything other than the basic facts. And if you need help or just need someone to vent to, hit me up! We'll walk through it together.