If you have parents or students complaining about a lack of communication but you believe you are communicating, then step back and ask yourself a couple of questions to find out the problem. When I was reassigned as a principal, I was communicating with my staff and parents in the same way I had at my previous school. My methods seemed successful so I continued them. At one point several teachers on my leadership team told me the staff was frustrated because of the lack of communication. I was dumbfounded! Really? I sent emails, I had staff meetings, I had weekly information going out, I used paper copies of things. I really felt I was communicating so I had to ask myself what I was missing. My leadership team wouldn’t just lie about it. So, I ask them to meet with their grade level teams and find out what their colleagues needed and then we met again. At that meeting, I told my team I would just listen and take notes. I told myself, I would not argue or become defensive – it was hard. But I just listened and asked clarification questions. And then I change my communication style to fit the needs of my new staff. Just because I believed I was communicating did not necessarily mean I was meeting their needs.
Communicating is often about meeting the needs of others – even if it only involves listening to their needs. Stay tuned for more on communication!
Communication can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be. During the course of my 30+ years in education, I learned a lot about communicating.
Are you listening to the needs of your parents, staff, or students? Being a good listener is critical to effective communication. No one likes to communicate with people who only want to push their view point. Be an active listener by paying close attention to what the other person is trying to can. As a principal, I found that most parents simply want to feel as though they have been heard – that you are actively listening and trying to understand their viewpoint. Often, parents don’t necessarily want you to do something – they want to be heard. So, listen!
More on communication tomorrow!
I cannot say enough about communication – it may be one of the most important tools a teacher has in his/her toolbox. What is communication? How do you communicate? Communication is the imparting or exchanging of information and a means of connection between people. There may be times when you think you are communicating, but the recipients don’t think you’re communicating at all. Different people respond to different types of communication. Be willing to listen and change if necessary.
However you decide to use your parent volunteers, make sure they know how much you appreciate them! One great way to show your appreciation is to have students create thank you cards and mail them to the parents! Everyone loves to be appreciated!
As promised, here is your free parent volunteer sign up list. If you have any trouble printing it, email me at email@example.com and I will email you the pdf.
Parent volunteers sign up
Be clear about what you actually need from parents! Some parents are only able to help with donating items while others are able to donate their time. If you want volunteers to listen to students read, then ask parents for that specific help. If you need volunteers to help tutor students, then be specific about that as well. Explain to parents that their help can help students progress.