There are many essential skills a school leader needs to be effective. On that list, and toward the top, is communication. How, when and how often, and by what means of communication are tough questions every school leader thinks about and deals with on a daily basis. To add to this debate I provide the following:
How To Communicate
There are three types of communication that every school leader needs to engage in with stakeholders. They include person to person, written, and digital. With the ease of doing things on-line, person to person communication has become a novel idea. This should not be true but it is becoming less likely to be used as we advance our use of technology. Don’t forget that nothing replaces a face to face discussion or conversation. Do not let this skill disappear from your methods of communicating. Make a point to have a person to person conversation on a daily basis with stakeholders. The second method is written. Yes, pen and paper! Again technology is making this method less likely to be used but it is an essential communication tool. Recently, I received a handwritten thank you note from a candidate I interviewed. It made a nice impression because the person took the time to get the card, write in it, stamp it and send. Finally, there is digital communication. For educational leaders this is where we get the most “bang for our buck” as we can reach many people in a single digital communication. It’s also the way the vast majority of people expect to get information today. The bottom line on how to communicate is for us to use our digital methods to get out lots of information quickly and in a timely manner but take the time to communicate personally and directly with people.
When and How Often to Communicate
The simple answer to when and how often to communicate is when it is necessary. This is difficult to identify. So a better answer might be to communicate on a consistent basis that allows stakeholders to receive the messages you want them to get, yet not so much that they become inundated and begin to ignore the messenger. What is the precise equation for meeting this standard depends on your community and your ability to listen to them when they tell you it’s too much. Most importantly in this category is to get information out in a timely manner. There is nothing worse than sending out irrelevant or outdated material to your community. The bottom line on when and how often to communicate is to be consistent and timely, yet aware of what you are sending and how often you are sending things out.
By What Means of Communication
This category might be similar to the first but I want to focus on digital resources for you to use as you advance your communication resources. Here are a few means of communicating digitally that will make you a more efficient communicator.
- Doodle.com – This site allows you to send out possible meeting dates and times to people you need to meet with and the site then organizes the data to identify the best possible meeting date(s). It’s easy and free!
- Smore.com – This site allows you to develop on-line flyers for events, activities and celebrations. It’s great for “getting the word out” on something happening in your school or district. Again, it’s easy and free!
- Google+ Communities – This site allows you to create a community for your organization or a group and have written and video communication with stakeholders. The site is free and takes a little practice when using it, but once you understand how to post, read and comment it becomes very easy.
- Edmodo.com – This is a favorite of educators already. It allows you to create your own community of learners and has the feel of a Facebook site but is a closed community. It is relatively easy to learn and free.
- Twitter – What can I say, it’s a favorite communication tool and growing in acceptance and use for educators. It’s easy and free!
- Todaysmeet.com – This site allows you to quickly set up a chat room for a group of people that limits participation to those you identify. It’s easy and free!
The ability to effectively and efficiently communicate as an educational leader has become easier with digital options but we cannot forget the personal side of education. How do you communicate? What tools do you use? Leave a comment to continue to provide resources for our colleagues.