As many principals and teachers already know your job isn't easy. You have to manage your students, budgets, lesson plans, mobile devices, and your school board to name a few.
However, there's one area that might be the most important and at the same time the most difficult area to address. Of course, I'm talking about the parents.
In an increasingly mobile and wifi connected school environment success takes exhaustive amounts of planning and effective communication, especially when trying to keep your student's parents in the know and involved.
Building a positive rapport with your student's parents is critical to your success and your student's success.
It leads to better organization, better integration of the latest technologies curriculum and a more personalized learning experience for everyone.
Here's a short list of 6 communication-boosting tips that will help to strengthen your school's relationship with it's parents immediately.
1. Use a medium they use
It might take a little bit of testing and some research but the most effective communication starts with understanding how the other person wants to communicate.
Some parents might still prefer website updates, others might want to be sent an email, however in today's world you can't forget to include social media as a valuable communication tool.
Parents use Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram as much as their children do and with it's instant, anonymous platforms your parents can feel comfortable and in the know in real-time.
2. Keep it short
When sending information to your parents, keep it short. Give them the most essential information only and provide a way for them to get further information if they want to.
This is especially true if you’re posting your message on Facebook or any social media. Don’t load up your post with information that won’t be read because it’s too lengthy. Make it brief so you don't lose their attention with unnecessary details that might not apply to them.
Most people today are used to the "instant gratification" associated with mobile and social media, so keep it relevant and keep it digestible maximum impact.
3. Make it easy
When you’re posting messages, mentioning important details make sure you make it easy for them to get more details or if they need to get in touch with someone to ask questions.
For example, let’s say your posting a parent-teacher event on Facebook; if you want the parents to attend you have to make sure that they can easily get the details they need without having to go through several other channels to do so.
The various flow charts would look like this:
- Message of event posted on Facebook with link for more details to landing page
- Email sent with event details with link for more details to event landing page
- Website home page updated with event details with easy to find link to the event landing page
4. Repeat yourself
You know how irritating it is for anyone to have to say things over and over? Well sometimes, like with your students, this works with parents as well.
Parents are busy. They worry about more than a few things at once. So the invitation you extended to Mrs. Jones as she was dropping her daughter off at dance class will not be remembered by tomorrow.
In order for your messages to get relayed and recalled, you have to repeat yourself over and over.
Make the announcement during the parent-teacher conference. Post it on the website. Send them an email. Post it again across all social media. This will make sure that they retain the information.
5. Be PATIENT
Parents can be awfully trying at times. They will insist that you didn’t inform them of something when in fact you’ve sent them an email, posted it on social media, or even mentioned it to them personally the last time you saw them.
The key to better communication with your school’s parents is with a healthy dose of patience and understanding.
You have to keep in mind that parents lives are busy, not only with their children but with everything else that comes with being an adult.
You have to accept the fact that school events might not always be the first thing on their minds like it is for you.
6. Optimizing your message
We all know that each person is different and what works collectively in another school may not work for yours. In order to find out what exactly works and what doesn’t, you have to track and monitor how parents react to what you do.
There are various email platforms available that offer detailed analytics for open rates and click-through rates for every email you send. You can also use social media analytics to find out which posts have gained more attention than others.
This will give you a better idea of what types of messages preform better, what time of day and time of week your messages receive the most interaction or views, which medium (email, social platform) is seeing the best response.
All of this data can be used to optimize your messaging, resulting in a better more effective experience between your school and it's parents.
Whether you're managing your school's day to day operations or managing your classroom, your success still comes down to communication.
A good relationship with your school’s parents can help you achieve a lot of things. With a well-established communication system, you can gain their trust, their involvement, and their resources, helping you to build a better learning experience.