Communication in schools is critical and essential. Whether it’s between teachers and students, parents and teachers or even teachers and other teachers. School communication is highly underestimated.
However, despite the apps and communication tools accessible and readily available in the market, research shows that many schools struggle with this key component of successful school management. This is caused by numerous reasons which only heighten the importance and urgency of effective school communication in education today.
There are various benefits to developing and enhancing your school’s approach to communication. Let’s take a step back and assess. Here are five simple ways to help improve school communication.
1 - Go Paperless - closing the digital divide
Technology is your friend. Instead of fighting with it, embrace it.
Being in the era of social media has made it easier to communicate, but at the same time very complex. How do schools decide the best way to communicate and where? Which piece of information is suitable for a social media post, an email blast, a simple text or a handout to be taken home? What calls for a phone call? What about grading papers? Sharing report cards?
It can feel overwhelming and adds to the educator’s stress instead of reducing it. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 89% of teachers dealt with a vast increase in their work-related stress levels during the past year alone. While 71% of educators enthusiastically conveyed an increase in their amount of workload during this pandemic. Educators – specifically teachers – can save time, reduce stress and increase productivity by going digital.
Teachers can go paperless when it comes to sharing coursework, handouts, and extra reading material with their students. The right communication tool can become the dream teacher’s assistant! Not having to print, hole-punch or staple paperwork, class lessons or homework takes a whole chunk of time out of the teacher’s schedule, giving them more time to be productive and focus on important tasks.
Especially when it comes to communicating with parents, digital is the road to successful communication. Parents want to receive more targeted, timely and personalized information about their children as opposed to only general school updates that may or may not include their children. A study conducted by the Startup Research Project concluded that while 67% of parents surveyed are active on Facebook, only 16% of them prefer to receive school and class related information through Facebook and other social media platforms.
Many schools currently share the common misconception and practice of sending messages to the whole school at once in order to save time. However, sending messages to everyone at once is not the solution. Teachers need to know what information to share with whom. Invest time and resources into training parents, teachers and school staff to use school communication apps and tools. This will benefit school communication, efficiency and productivity in the long run.
There are many school communication apps and tools available in the market; tools that help you communicate with parents, teachers and students. Be sure to choose the right fit for your school. Sticking to one personalized and unified school communication system becomes more convenient for parents to consistently communicate with the school and teachers, as opposed to the hassle of juggling multiple apps and platforms. Every teacher uses a software differently, personalized for their classrooms and students’ needs.
2 - Building a community
It doesn’t matter if you’re managing a big private school with over 2,000 students or a small preschool of 50 students, effective communication should still be a priority and a means to creating and building a united school community – both online and offline.
Parents want to connect with teachers and teachers want to communicate with their administrators more often than many realise. A recent study concluded that 27% of teachers and educators want more opportunities to connect with their leaders and administrators. While parents want to know how to connect with teachers to improve and become an active part of their child’s educational experience. Other studies showed that what is most important to parents in terms of school communication and engagement is convenience, personalization, timeliness and relevance.
Teachers can check-in with students and parents. As we are still practicing safe and social distancing during this pandemic, consider using a simple user-friendly communication platform to instantly communicate and stay connected with parents and students. Include parents in learning experiences to get them involved in your school and class environment.
Community and a sense of belonging and togetherness cannot be incorporated overnight. Take the first step towards a cohesive collaborative school community by enhancing your school communication. The rest will build itself up one block at a time.
3 - Don't forget, it's a two way street
Think outside the bi-annual parent/teacher meeting! Communication is only as effective as the parties involved. Research shows that 59% of parents never received a call from elementary school teachers. To make matters more distressing, 50% of the parents who did receive calls or any other form of teacher-parent communication report being “not satisfied” by their interactions, concluding that neither the teachers nor the parents express an interest in communicating through phone calls.
Teachers need to be able to communicate effectively with parents to the extent that it ensures and allows parents to respond positively to what has been communicated. Instead of dumping all the school updates and news onto parents, opt for engagement and collaboration.
This can be implemented through a simple acknowledgement, an engaging encounter, an efficient action (upon a school’s or teacher’s request) or even silent but present observations. The aim is to make communication between parents and teachers seamless, simple and instantaneous.
However, schools need to be mindful of digital two-way communication. Consider whether administrative oversight is possible, if the tools and apps are safe and secure, and whether they offer a one-stop platform for parents communication as opposed to adopting multiple platforms within your school that parents need to keep track of.
4 - Better Communication, Better Education
At the end of the day, administrators, teachers and parents all have a common goal – providing the best educational experience and environment for students to excel and succeed in their careers and aspirations. The fundamental component to successfully achieving this goal is cohesive and effective communication.
Studies have shown that successful teacher-student communication is an essential requirement for academic achievement. This is possible through understanding student needs, addressing them at the appropriate levels and fostering a relaxed atmosphere that nurtures and encourages friendly and open discussions.
Another research concluded that students’ success is directly connected to interactive engaging teaching environments. Teacher-parent communication also has an effect on students’ perceptions of school, their role within their respective classes, their own learning capabilities and the motivation to succeed.
5 - Time saved is time well spent
One of the most time-consuming occupations is teaching; with lesson planning, grading papers, gamification, and constantly coming up with new ideas to help students learn in the best ways possible. Success then becomes hard to achieve when you’re already stretched for time, which may lead to important things falling through the cracks and most of the focus and effort shifted to day-to-day tasks and responsibilities.
With the hectic and busy school day that teachers have to manage day in and day out, it leaves barely any time to tend to their personal matters or even recharge to ensure consistent productivity. A recent study has shown that 51% of educators wanted to have more time to attend to their own needs. Taking short and frequent breaks, and knowing when to press pause can do wonders for educators’ mentality and helps them remain sharp and focused, making them work even more efficiently. Between teaching, grading and communicating with parents, students and colleagues, teachers find it hard to turn off “work mode” and turn on “silent mode” or make time to recharge.
The success of school communication is the key to the success of your school in its entirety. Teachers are a school’s greatest asset. Help them save valuable time to in turn increase productivity. Embrace the future and save nature by going paperless not only at a classroom level but schoolwide.
Communication is not a selfish act but a give and take. Listen, communicate and cooperate. Encourage engagement, reciprocation and collaboration between administrators, parents, teachers and students. Don’t just maintain and manage a functioning school environment – build a strong unified school community. Build a community that not only believes in, but actively works towards better communication for better education.