One could argue that being able to communicate effectively is perhaps one of the most important out of all life skills. First things first, communication helps you to pass information on to others but also to understand one another. But why is it especially important for schools?
With so many different people to communicate with like parents, teachers, students and administrative staff possibly from all over the world, one can easily be fumbled with communication issues. Working in an international school for almost three years now, it seems clear to me that in order to communicate effectively, regular reflection is key. Being a communicator is not an end result nor a destination, but rather a constant work in progress. When you communicate effectively, it can even influence the motivation and satisfaction of everybody involved, so it has to be a priority. And in a year like 2020 , the world really saw how important communication is and how valuable it is to stay connected – even during difficult times.
Here are three questions you should ask yourself:
1. What do you want to communicate?
It may seem very obvious but sometimes we get lost in this one especially when more parties are involved. Are you clear with what you want to say? What is the most important thing in your message? The clearer you are, the easier it is to be understood.
However, while abbreviations are a good thing, you must make sure that people actually understand what it is you are trying to say. Not everybody is an expert and sometimes it makes sense to have an explanatory sentence to find the meaning of what you are about to say.
Another good idea is to offer resources and links to related topics if people want to find out more. By doing this you will seem like a reliable person that takes into consideration the fact that some people want to know the most important stuff while others would like to know more.
2. Who are you communicating to?
In a school there are many different parties. The first one to pop up is most likely the student body, teachers, followed up by parents and guardians. Depending on the school there might also be administrative staff outsourced suppliers, board of governors and media. It really depends on who your audience is in order to find the correct words and tones, such as the required action items. Similarly, the language of the school is not always the first language of the people who you are talking to – keep that in mind.
3. Where do you want to communicate?
Emails may seem like the most obvious form of communication within a company, but sometimes we are not aware that there are other communication channels available and the even more difficult question: which channel should I use and when? If everybody on the team is clear on how to answer this question then communication problems are less likely to occur . A good start therefore is a communication map to visually line out what is available and which parties should hear from which channel. An example could be this:
If a bigger team is involved in communication it might be a good idea to have a general idea of who is responsible for communicating where; otherwise you might be repeating yourself or even worse – forget to communicate.
On the last note
Communication helps everybody to understand the goal and in an international school it is the education that all the children are receiving. With the three little questions as your personal tool: What do you want to communicate, whom are you communicating to and which form of communication you opt for? You will be more aware and can focus on communicating more consistently. Regular communication builds trust and transparency – just part of the foundation a school truly needs to grow.