A few weeks ago, I interviewed an administrator, the director of technology in FCSD, about her views on communication. Throughout the interview, there were some key points that she pointed out that have stuck with me the past few weeks:
- Think about the medium. Make sure it’s the right format for the message: electronic, paper, phone, etc.
- Understand who the audience is, and tailor the message to meet characteristics of that audience
- Make sure the message has a purpose. If it doesn’t, then you need to rework a message so it has meaning
- Put yourself in the position of the person that needs information. Let that be your guide and keep info simple
- Make sure to not communicate too much information in one message. Break up information and keep it clear. This will have more impact
Since this interview, I have reflected about how I communicate and whether it is effective or not. I have changed some practices:
- In emails, using more bullet points and headers for sections
- Emailing one main idea per message
- Putting myself in the stakeholder’s position and writing down on a notebook what type of information might be needed. This writing process has helped me tailor a message to communicate more effectively with people at school. I have gotten fewer questions this year about events or resources because I have taken the time to anticipate what information a stakeholder might need
- Communicating more effectively with our ELL students. Last year, the ELL teacher spoke Spanish to help me communicate with families. This year, our new ELL teacher does not speak Spanish, so I have had to find different ways to effectively communicate with families where English is not the first language. I’ve also had the students try to teach me some phrases in their first language so I can more easily talk with them. This has been a great learning experience for me, as I am getting to know our students more
The communication task force has created its first video that showcased information about the first-grade blood drive. It was quite a learning experience as I delved more into the ins and outs of video-editing and creation. It’s becoming easier the more I play around with the software-we use Camtasia.
However, there was one big mistake we made with the making of this first video. We connected with the team and they sent kids down to create the video and rehearse. But the kids did not have any lines memorized or even had an idea of what they had to say. We ASSUMED that the grade level would have helped students create the script and have students practice lines for the PBL video project. We quickly wrote a script and had students practice it for the final take the next day.
In the end, there was a decent video that was created. However, the team reflected and we decided we needed to tell teachers that we need their help for the videos. At our next faculty meeting, we went over the expectations that students need to come prepared to shoot a video with us and know what they are expected to accomplish. This now-clear communication about our role and expectations has provided positive results. We have made a few more videos since then, and teachers have sent students prepared to rehearse and shoot the video. I hope this keeps up.