In this day and age, communication is changing faster than ever. According to a study conducted by the National School Public Relations Association, parents are increasingly expressing concerns about school safety, the quality of education that their children are receiving, and the means of communication with their school district. As a superintendent, it is your job to establish yourself as a capable figure when it comes to communicating with parents.
Parents and students with both high and low priority needs look to the superintendent to listen to and address their concerns. Keeping the diversity of these concerns and needs in mind, school district leadership teams should use researched practices to better improve the climate of their schools and help promote student achievement, regardless of individual students’ abilities.
Here are four tips for communicating with parents.
1. Establish trust and a clear line of communication from the beginning
Like any job, it’s important to always do your best. When it comes to communicating with parents, they should know that you’re a resource right from the beginning of your relationship. Taking steps to attend meetings and events and thoughtfully responding to inquiries can be great starts to building trust within the community.
This extends to your entire leadership team. Making sure your team has the proper skills and resources required to work together to be successful is just as crucial as on an individual level. Like every family in your district, each member of your team should know and be able to clearly articulate the relevant policies, regulations, and systems that affect their schools.
Once a good foundation between school leaders and families is established, it becomes easier to anticipate the needs of students and their schools.
2. Listen and practice transparency
Once you’ve established trust with the families in your school district, it’s important to maintain those relationships. One of the best ways to nurture positive communication with parents is to listen to their concerns. This can take the form of anything from holding forums, tours, or even press conferences to conducting surveys or one-on-one meetings.
Portraying yourself as human and approachable can be the difference between an arrogant superintendent and an effective one. There will always be parents who take a more rant-like approach when discussing their concerns, so maintaining patience is vital.
Another major aspect of communicating with parents is to be transparent about your decisions. The public expects access to information, particularly from institutions like local school districts. Relaying the reasoning behind any relevant decision, whether involving a positive or negative context, will fulfill those expectations and portray you as human, as well as a good leader.
3. Consult individuals throughout the district who can travel through different cultures
Like your leadership team, it’s important to utilize other colleagues. Often, individuals outside of school leadership, such as teachers, staff, and other parents, can transcend any social boundaries that may be an obstacle to clear communication.
Certain groups and members of your district may already have established authentic relationships with concerned parents. Being sensitive to both school and worldly cultures is essential. Recognizing that a teacher or principal with language fluency may be an important individual to consult can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful exchange with a parent.
These “cultural travelers” can also address concerns like standardized testing or school safety. Delegating a face-to-face conversation with a parent about school shooting preparedness to a knowledgeable teacher, for example, can allow that teacher to use their daily expertise of their classroom to answer specific questions that you may only have overarching knowledge of.
4. Show that you are prepared for anything and manage school safety through the use of technology
With modern problems come modern solutions. In a survey spanning twenty-two states and rural, small, and large urban districts, the primary concern from parents was that “the superintendent should ensure that the school district improves its communication with parents by using available technology.” Luckily, there are many options for doing so.
ScholarChip’s student tracking system simplifies communicating students’ whereabouts to parents and guardians. By connecting with a school ID system, no one has to spend extra time calling parents; instead, they will automatically be notified if their child isn’t where they’re supposed to be.
Similarly, ScholarChip’s ScholarConnect portal further streamlines parent communication. The portal lets guardians check in on their students’ attendance, their behavior and misbehavior, and their cafeteria funds. By creating standard procedures for communicating with parents, you can assure them that they’ll be kept informed of every development in an emergency.
Finally, parents want to know that there is a plan in place should an emergency occur. ScholarChip offers a secure door system that can lock and unlock doors and provide a manageable and clear map of who has access to any given area of your school.
By showing parents that you’re prepared for anything, building and maintaining relationships, and properly preparing all those who work in your school district, you’re sure to improve overall communication with parents and guardians.
ScholarChip offers a solution called Alternative Behavior Educator (ABE). This innovative program enables school leaders to identify, monitor, and improve student behavior throughout a student’s career, while giving administrators and teachers powerful data-driven reports that quickly flag at-risk students, help monitor and chronicle progress, and support decision-making tasks. The ScholarChip system incorporates the complete spectrum of behavior and integrates student rewards, interventions, and tracking with PowerSchool®, Infinite Campus, and other popular SIS platforms.
To learn how ScholarChip can help keep your schools safer and more secure, learn more about the many solutions ScholarChip provides, or to get free recommendations, feel free to contact us for a free 1-on-1 consultation today!