Why do you think companies like Apple and Nike have such a cult following? If you compare their products to their competitors, they are very similar—but these two companies are getting consumers to pay more for their product than their competitors are. Why? I believe the No. 1 reason is communication. These companies know how to communicate the “greatness” of their products. From iPhones to Air Jordans, we have been told we can “Think Different” and “Be like Mike” just by powering on their devices and lacing up their sneakers. In the world of education, we can learn a thing or two from these companies on how we communicate with our stakeholders.
School leaders are the go-to people when students, parents, staff, and community members want to know what is going on inside the walls of a school. It is our job as school leaders to show our communities firsthand how our school is set apart from other schools. At the end of the day, we know more about our school than anyone else, so who better to tell your school’s story? To help you tell your school’s story, here are three simple and practical ways that school leaders can communicate effectively with the masses:
More than likely, all of your stakeholders are on one or more social media sites, scrolling on their phones and looking to engage. This is a great opportunity to meet your stakeholders right where they are and bring your school to the screen in the palm of your communities’ hands. Create a school page on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and keep it current. Post the routine daily happenings as well as pictures and videos of awesome lessons or activities your staff and students are doing. It is an easy and powerful way to ensure you are telling your school’s story.
Send a Weekly Email for More Directed Communications
Administrators need an effective way to let staff know of school activities and how they can get plugged in. Every week, I send my staff a “Weekly Warrior” document that provides important info such as school activities, drills, and even my personal calendar. I also share a teaching piece called “From My Desk” about the current book I am reading and how its lessons could be applied in the classroom. By doing this, I am modeling the need of ongoing learning to my staff. There is also a section “Highlight of My Week” where I share something that I witnessed that made me proud to be a leader in the building. From great things teachers are doing in and out of the classroom, to positive interactions I see between students, this is a great section to brag to and about our stakeholders.
I take this communication one step further to reach the masses. I BCC the email with this document and a video “blog” that I record each week and publish on YouTube. (Subscribe to our Youtube channel: BMSWARRIORS67) to all the central office and every administrator in the district. I do this so everyone can see firsthand the great things we are doing and how amazing our staff is. Adding those extra people to an email that I am already sending makes this communication even greater and more powerful without any extra effort.
This year, we have also asked our staff members to send a weekly email communication to their students and parents. We have seen huge growth in our effort to bridge the gap between the classroom and home, and because of that our culture continues to move in a positive direction.
Connect Face to Face With Stakeholders
School leaders can’t always speak from the comfort of our MacBook. There are times you have to lace up your Nike sneakers and connect with your students and parents face to face. Two ways that have made the most impact for communicating with our students are after-school clubs and principal chats. After-school clubs meet every day of the week except Fridays. The clubs run for an hour to two hours after school. During this time, our administrative team gets to have real conversations with students, who open up more because of the informal nature of the clubs. Principal chats occur every other week and have provided students a more structured outlet to express their voice and unique perspectives about what is happening in the school. We’ve discussed everything from the code of conduct to ideas on how to improve the food in the cafeteria, which has helped me relate to my students and connect with them on a new and much-needed level.
With parents we try to be transparent and have multiple “experiences” (PTO, Donuts with Principals, orientation)where they can come in and hear our story. You would be surprised how great communication can be with a jelly donut in one hand and the other greeting parents and welcoming their input. These interactions are worth more than the cost of a few dozen donuts.
Communication is key if you want everyone to see your story. The alternative of not telling your own story is that others will tell it for you, and let’s be honest, do you really want someone else telling your story? So “just do it” and start taking your communication to the next level and reach the masses.
Who is telling your school story? How can you start implementing new forms of communication to reach the masses?
Roger Gurganus is an Assistant Principal at Brownstown Middle School, a 6–7 building in Brownstown, MI. He has a passion for children and education and strives to ensure that every student is connected and feels part of the positive communities he creates. Along with creating a culture of hope and love in his own middle school, Roger also is committed to bringing hope, love and education to the children of Uganda, Africa where each summer he travels in hope of making a bigger difference in the lives of students who need it the most. Roger believes that teaching is not a job but rather a calling and hopes that through his work lives can be changed, dreams can become reality, and mountains can be moved.
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