Hundreds of conversations between educators and parents are taking place every day. The problem is the exchanges are taking place through different modes from apps and platforms, to phones and email. How are district leaders going to reach the parent engagement goals in the strategic plan without organized structure or transparency? Here are five tips to help you gain oversight on parent communication at the district level.
1. Banish the manual call logManual call logs rely on the caller having the time and ability to remember everything that was said as well as the reason and maybe even the tone in which the conversation took place. At the end of the year, teachers are left with thick binders full of incomplete records that may or may not ever be useful. Automatic logging and recording eliminate the need for a hand-written call log. Not only will it save your teachers' time and effort, but it will also defeat the “he-said, she-said” when mitigating disagreements. What's more, it will ensure proper compliance at all times. Make sure all records are accessible to the appropriate leadership without having to make a request.
2. Consolidate all communications in the districtUnifying district communications provides administrator oversight into your relationships with parents and the community. Consolidate everything from one-on-one parent communication to district-wide notifications in order to 1) see where communication is and is not happening, 2) unify your messaging to support your district brand, and 3) establish best practices for communication across the district.
[See: Why Your District Struggles with Communication Strategy]
3. Institute a technology policyWhether you are investing in a new technology solution or you are happy with your district communication tool, a clear policy outlining expectations for teacher and staff use is a great way to get everyone on the same page. Outline your goals, objectives, and strategies, and consider making the use of a single tool mandatory. This will help keep all your communication in one place and eliminate confusion for parents.
4. Analyze one-on-one communication metricsCommunication metrics are an often overlooked source of valuable information. It only takes a little bit of analysis to see where changes can be made. For example, you may want to inspect the frequency with which parents are returning text messages. Evaluate the type or content of messaging and consider ways to build two-way relationships with families. You may also want to inspect the frequency of communication by campus or individual teachers to provide PD for proactive communication. Ultimately, it’s hard to solve problems if you don’t know where they are happening.
5. Compare or combine communication metrics with other data pointsHealthy parent communication and engagement lead to greater student growth. However, communication tools, records, and metrics are often completely separate from the student data you track to demonstrate growth. Instead, use your student data to guide your communication with parents. This could be identifying at-risk students and increasing proactive conversations with those parents. You might also create an attendance texting campaign to reduce absences. Strategic, data-informed communication ensures your district goals for student success are supported by parent and family relationships.
Parent Communication That Is "Easier, More Transparent, And Quantifiable"
Lumpkin County Schools in north Georgia built a parent communication strategy with full administrator oversight. Not only did communication frequency go through the roof, but teachers also loved the changes.