On Sunday evening, two of us sat on Zoom waiting to see how many school leaders, teachers or governors would turn up for our first school communication training workshop.
The narrow focus of this was understanding how it feels to be a parent receiving communication from a school. What happens in that magic parent communication moment, when your message lands in an inbox or on a phone? What makes the difference between engaged, supportive parents and those who have a tendency not to respond?
As we switched Zoom to “broadcast” mode, the number of attendees grew and we were very happy as we ticked past “nobody cares” to reach a respectable “this has been well worth it.”
Central to Just Add Parents from the beginning, we want to share experience and knowledge from the worlds of professional communication and education. Our central insight is that parents will play an elevated role in their children’s education as the world comes to terms with the coronavirus “new normal”.
We know some school leaders will recognise the need to take a new look at the communication methods needed to achieve parent engagement, especially post-Covid-19. For those teachers, heads and school administrators, we want to help spread the word about good communication practice.
Improving school communication
For those schools and school leaders already using modern methods and technology to harness the support of parents, we’d love to hear from you. In our experience, the best form of learning among schools is peer-to-peer. We would love to tell your stories right here, to help others improve. Please email us or use the comments below if you have advice or tips to share.
But we also recognise that, in many cases, there is room for improvement. We will nod to those areas schools, in our experience, have a tendency to lag behind in some modern communication practice.
In a very real sense, Just Add Parents is for those school leadership teams who are prepared to invest in change.
Walk in their shoes
The first challenge for many schools is to understand the parent context for receiving school communications. While it may start with empathy, there are many modern frameworks, methods and tools available to schools to make sure their communication with parents leads to greater engagement, where that is desirable.
In the following videos, you can delve into Just Add Parents’ first workshop and explore some of these areas at a time that is convenient for you.
Workshop 1 videos
Full workshop (57m 14s)
In the full workshop video, Pete and Simon take a blend of theory, practice and real-world examples to explore the parent context, how schools can walk in the parents’ shoes as they receive communication from the school, using methods, techniques and theories from the world of communication. Some will already be familiar to educators.
Defining communication in the context of school and parents.
Why it matters to get parents to act now.
What are a parent’s intentions on hearing from a school?
Refresher: cognitive load in the parent context.
Refresher: cognitive dissonance in the parent context.
Refresher: system 1, system 2 thinking, the parent context.
Five reasons your communications fail.
Introducing a tool to help you avoid false conclusions.
Answer to a question about schools tracking readership.