Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Communicating with our parents #SAVMP

One of my goals each and every year is to communicate better with our parents.  I am currently in my 7th year as principal and the way that we communicate with parents is much different than seven years ago.
Way back then, we had only four methods of communicating with parents- our weekly all school newsletter (I had a paragraph that I wrote every week) that was posted online but also sent home in paper form with our students, telephone calls, emails, and face to face meetings.
My how things have changed.  We still have the same four methods listed above, although we did away with the paper form of our newsletter.  We have added in recent years a mass email component to our student information system.  I use this for weekly emails to all families (We only have four families without an email address, which I must admit is astounding.), important reminders or information (conferences, snow day, concerts), and my weekly letter to parents.  I have recently changed the format of my letters to smore (Here is my latest example.) and it has been well received by parents.  As soon as I get over 30 views, I can also check out the number of people who have viewed my smore and where they were when they viewed it.  I also have a school twitter account (@mertonint) which is also directly linked to our school's website and my website.
Now I know what you are thinking.  These are all technology tools for communication, but we need to start somewhere.  Sometimes what I email or tweet gets a reaction from parents, either good or bad, which leads to an email, phone call, or parent meeting.  I think that's great!  Sometimes we are looking for the catalyst for a conversation and each of these tools can lead to that.
We did encounter resistance, especially when the paper copies of our newsletter stopped coming home.  We made these copies available in our office and every week the extra copies seem to be recycled.  I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or not, but I think we have directed the parents well enough to our school's website and the staff websites to provide most of the information they might need.
I'm trying something new at conferences this week and next week, too.  I'm going to station myself in the lobby with our school's website on a screen and meet with any parent that stops by to see me to show them all of the information that is available at their fingertips.  If you are interested, here is the link to my own website that has daily announcements, Friday parent emails, board presentations, and RtI Wednesday presentations.  I'll let you know how my conference idea works out.