School Communication Tools
Recently Jenallee had the honor of joining Administrators at a few different technology events including Tech and Learning Live in Austin, TX, and at the ETETA Administrator Academy in Knoxville, Tennessee. We also just recently hosted a Twitter Space where the topic was Effective Communication. We had a few very special guests join us for this engaging conversation: Andrew Murphy, Scott Bricker, and Pat Bhava. We led multiple conversations relating to the topic of effective school communication. As security is heightened, learning expectations have increased, as well as the strain of emotional turmoil within society. We know now more than ever that effective communication is of utmost importance. In leading these conversations a few key points stood out to us.
1️⃣ Understanding the foundational pieces of communication
What are the foundational pieces of relationships that must be in place before stakeholders can trust you?
We have found that we can communicate all day long, but if people do not have a relationship with us, they do not hear us.
Are you being transparent and authentic in building relationships?
We think being visible, listening well, and being authentic, consistent, and transparent, are foundational pieces to relationships before communication can begin.
Do you agree? What other foundational pieces would you add?
2️⃣ Identifying Your Audience
When communicating as a school entity, we need to be sure that we have identified our audience and communicated information to them. In saying this, we mean that we need to tailor the message to fit them, share in a format that best fits the audience, and deliver the information in a space, place, and format that the audience is likely to be viewing or using.
3️⃣ Communication Flow
In building relationships with all stakeholders, we want to ensure that everyone has a voice. Voices need to be heard, not just when we are upset, but all the time. Education is better because we partner with stakeholders. As educators, we listen to each other, offer suggestions, and support each other to reach our goals. When communicating, we want to make sure that all stakeholders have the opportunity for two-way communication as well as an opportunity to share, brainstorm, and support the education system.
How do we offer two-way communication to everyone involved?
🗣 Following up After the Conversations 🗣
These are just some of the discussions we had and questions we were trying to collectively answer. Through the conversations at these events, many EdTech applications were mentioned, so we wanted to take a minute to share some of our top picks for meeting various needs in school communication.
Safety and Security
Being able to effectively communicate all things “safety and security” is essential for schools and educators. Technology can help ensure that all systems are running effectively and that all stakeholders are able to communicate efficiently throughout all situations.
One area that we have found in need of security is the dismissal process. Raise your hand if you have been involved in an hour-long dismissal process. We hope you did not hurt yourself by throwing your hand into the air so quickly! However, we also know that this is a frequent downfall of many dismissal processes. Not only is time lost, but safety and transportation are concerns we consider as well.
Pikmykid is a school safety and dismissal platform that is reimagining school safety with some awesome technology. There are many features of this platform that offer schools communication success. We wanted to take a moment and share two features that really stand out to us as effective pieces of school communication.
- Parents have an app to instantly notify their school when their dismissal plans change
- A geo-fence is placed around your school
- As parents enter the geo-fence they are able to announce their arrival via the parent app
- Staff members are able to see and update the live car line order and dismiss students in the correct order
- Staff members verify parents have permission to pick up each student
- Once a student is dismissed, it sends a notification to their parent in the app and students are able to safely load cars
For school safety:
Staff can manage emergencies and dismissal from the same place with clear communication.
- Schools can give staff protocols for over a dozen emergencies in the app.
- The staff has a silent panic button in their pocket to quickly notify first responders, administrators, or parents when an emergency happens.
- Schools can quickly communicate clear emergency reunification plans with parents and staff.
- Parents and staff have clear lines of communication for dismissal permission so kids don’t end up going home with the wrong person.
- Staff and students are safer in the parking lot with less confusion and traffic congestion causing accidents.
One feature we are excited to learn more about is the Emergency Student Reunification Plan for schools. Pikmykid offers an organized way for parents, students, and teachers to check in and get reunified for an off site evacuation during an emergency like a power outage.
Now more than ever it is critical to have a way to offer two-way communication between teachers, parents, and the community. There are many platforms that offer this and we discussed a variety of options throughout our conversations. One that we really like and one that we’ve had quite a bit of experience with is Remind.
Remind is a communication platform that helps every student succeed. Whether you’re in the classroom, at home, or anywhere in between, Remind makes it easy to stay connected to your school community.
- Communicate in real time—on any device.
- Keep personal contact information private.
- Translate messages into more than 90 languages.
- Share files, photos, and content from your favorite sites.
Social Media Posting
Many of us are on social media regularly, some more than others. But social media is a key component when it comes to school communication, and doing it effectively and correctly is vital to the success of the message. One of our discussions evolved around an application called Apptegy. We don’t have any experience with this tool but it sounds like it would be a great resource for any district looking to have support with creating and sharing content online in a consistent manner.
“Apptegy is a company that provides an online platform that intends to give schools a tool to share through any communication channel including their website and mobile apps. It offers Apptegy technology that brings to the K12 market its Thrillshare publishing platform to allow educators and students to share content, images, and videos in correct formats.”
What other ways can we share information in a clear and consistent manner?
We are huge fans of creating and sharing graphically appealing content online. By providing content that is visually engaging, audiences are more apt to interact and connect with the information.
We create content primarily with our two favorite tools, Canva and Genially.
Canva is FREE for K-12 educators. Canva offers thousands of templates, which empowers everyone to be a designer. It is easy to use, FREE, and designs can be shared in many different ways from embed codes, to links, to collaborative designs. A few of our favorite designs for communication include: Newsletters, websites, videos, and social media posts.
Genially is a FREEmium product, but offers many free templates. Genially designs offer interactive elements. They engage the user in a easy to use, eye appealing design and encourages them to explore the content. Kelli Kelsoe, at Castleberry ISD shares how she used Genially to create the District Organizational Chart in this TikTok video!visual communication by salleeclark
Both of these platforms make creating and sharing content easy and visually engaging.
In closing, whatever tool you use, or in whatever manner you choose to communicate just remember as our friend, Ashley May stated in our Twitter Space conversation,
“We aren’t always going to get it right but we ARE making a difference!”Ashley May @edtechqueen
We would love to hear from you. What are you using for effective school communication? How are you connecting with your families, your community, and your staff? Have you found something that is working well? Please share. And don’t forget to go and be a different kind of AWESOME!
This post is sponsored by Pikmykid. All opinions are my own.