This year we have undertaken a new communications strategy at our school. My fantastic colleague, George Couros (@gcouros), challenged a group of principals to really look at how we were communicating with parents, families and our communities.
To be honest, the first thing I thought about was what platform would we utilize. I realized this was not the million-dollar question…
What do we want to do? How do we want to communicate? In my head I saw four major needs:
- Communications Must Go To the User
We looked at how many parents actually went to the webpages that each teacher was creating, updated, and spending time adding to. The results were dismal. Parents do not GO TO a site. Thus, we needed a way to get the communications out to people, not where the user has to go find it.
- Communications Must Be Immediate
Timing is critical. Paper notices get lost, fall to the bottom of the backpacks, fall out, and disappear to the gremlins that sometimes eat the papers… I wanted parents to get our communications immediately and take out the middleman. This does not mean we never send paper notices home. Now, we are just trying to also send home a digital reminder in case the child loses the paper.
- Communications Must Enable A Deep Understanding of the Work Students Engage In
I wanted to make sure our communications plan was more than just reminders and text. What about images and video? After all, a picture is worth a thousand words… How do we share out the work students are engaged in? How do we share out the amazing work? Teachers and the school had to be able to share out photos and video and text, not just text.
- New Parents Need an Immediate Vision of Our School, Even Before They Set Foot in the School…
If I am a new parent to a new school, or shopping for a school, I am going to go online and Google the school and the teacher. I want to see the real work going on in that school and in that classroom. If it is not there, I missed a great opportunity to set up a relationship before that parent even sets foot inside the school… How powerful would that be…?
In the end our school decided to utilize Twitter and SchoolMessenger. They allow us to, as of this time and in my opinion, to best meet the needs I set out in my thinking. This is, as always, a work in progress. All of our teachers and classrooms have Twitter accounts and are starting to share out, in addition to our school account that my team partner Alex and I manage.
Take a look at @BelParkCBE on Twitter to see how this is coming along, now that we are three months in! I will keep you updated!
As always, work hard, learn tonnes!