Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Rest of the Story about Communication

Paul Harvey's voice still rings in my ears from his daily reporting of the news from 20 years ago. This reporting icon's unique dialect, the way he would raise his pitch at the end of a given paragraph and his signature phrase at the end, "Now You Know the Rest of the Story..." had me captivated each time I heard him speak. I couldn't wait to hear the news the next day because of his
  • Regularity,
  • Enthusiasm,
  • Sincerity, and
  • Transparency
in each daily message.  Listen to a fantastic example of Paul Harvey's story-telling to see the genius of his descriptive communication style.
Do you have the above outstanding communication qualities that make your parents, staff and students want to hear from you? Communication is a special art form and one that many in leadership positions leave to chance. If you want to be successful, you must be a great communicator and utilize the R.E.S.T. tenets of communication.

Before you begin to communicate, you must develop your plan of what to communicate, how frequently you want to communicate and what forms of media or format will be best to communicate your message to as many of your stakeholders as possible.


People expect to hear from you at the same time every day in the same way.  Set your calendars and alarms to make sure your message is delivered regularly. Also use multiple media formats to ensure that you reach the audience in the media format that works best for them.  I like to send tweets linked to my Facebook account at 3:00 p.m. so parents can begin reading the daily message while they wait for their child in the parent pick-up line.  This communication also gives parents a conversation topic with their child when they get home.


Nobody wants to listen to a boring message from an uninteresting speaker or writer. Let your passion about education show, and people will be more interested in learning more about what you want them to know.  Your values and personality are communicated in the message that you send.  Parents, staff and students must hear "Why this is Important" in your message.  The why shows that you care about kids and are passionate about making sure that every child becomes a lifelong learner.


Show your audience that communication is very important.  Sincerity is showing your love for learning and compassion for each and every child.  Having flipped lessons available online shows parents that you need them involved in their child's learning by giving them a video model of what kids are expected to learn.  Inviting parents to visit the school and be involved in your daily activities also shows your sincerity. Again, letting your passion show in your communication will bring stakeholders in and will close many communication gaps with your learning community.


If no one is asking you questions, challenging ideas or suggesting new ways of doing things, nobody's listening to the leader. The purpose of your communication must be to inform and solicit input to make your organization a better place for kids, staff and parents. This means that you have to provide multiple ways for your stakeholders to communicate with you.  Have your website easy to navigate with important information to include parents in the learning process.  Reach out through your social media and emails.  Transparency is shown best when you show where you or the organization is lacking and how you value parent input to address these short-comings.  Parents want to be involved and they are less likely to be involved if they do not trust the school.

Parent communication is the key component to parent involvement.  If you make communication a priority, a strong partnership between your school and your parents will be the rest of your story.

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