Strong, effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful organization—and schools are no different. With today’s ever-evolving communication channels, it’s more important than ever before that school districts plan how they will communicate with parents, students, staff, and members of the community.
Whether you find yourself dealing with an emergency situation or hosting a new school event, there are many times when your district will benefit from having a strategic communication plan. To help you get started, we’ll walk you through the necessary steps to creating an effective communication plan to help your school district thrive.
Knowing Your Mission and Goals
One of the most important things you can do when building out your school communication plan is to make sure your goals align with the school district’s mission. Ask yourself some important questions: What are the barriers to improving dialogue with parents? How can you better engage the staff, parents, and students of your school?
In order to effectively implement your school communication plan, you need to ensure that all teachers and staff understand your goals and are on board, because they’ll be a critical part of bringing the plan to life.
One way to do this is to create a document that outlines your school communication plan. Make your plan as clear and easy to access as possible, because this will enable school staff to refer back to the plan when they need a refresher. With a comprehensive school software solution, you can bring your communication plan to life, allowing teachers and staff to follow the system prompts and know they’re compliant with district and federal regulations.
Breaking Down Communication Channels
The next step to creating your school communication plan is to determine what your communication channels will be. It’s a good rule of thumb to use an integrated approach with newer technology. Say goodbye to tedious paper forms and outdated ways of getting things done.
Some of the different communication channels you can utilize are:
- School websites
- Text notifications
- Email updates
- Social media
- Video content
- School software, like ActivityRight
In addition to selecting the appropriate channels for your student population, ensuring compliance is an important piece of building out your school communication plan. You’ll want to make note of any legal requirements or ramifications for communication in your area. For example, U.S. civil rights laws require that certain notifications are sent in a language that parents understand. Additionally, regulations specify more than 250 places where parent notifications, forms, and letters are required.
Choosing the Right Communication Buckets
The next thing you’ll want to consider is what communication buckets you’ll include in your plan, as well as how you’ll organize them to effectively reach your audience. What are the different school-related topics that you’d like to share? By identifying your communication buckets ahead of time, you can ensure you’re covering all of the most important topics.
Some of the most common school communication buckets are:
- Internal communication
- Parent and family engagement
Once in a while, there’s a situation that calls for immediate communication with parents and families. For example, school closures, snow days, and lockdowns all fall under emergency communications. Because of the time-sensitive nature of these incidents, communication might take the form of an SMS/text message or even a push notification if you’re using software that permits this.
There’s always something going on at school—and you need a way to keep parents, students, and staff up to date. Report cards, school events, drama and musical performances, sporting events, and similar announcements can all be shared through email, on the school website, or both. For day-of reminders, an SMS/text message may also help families arrive safely and on time.
Of course, it goes without saying that you’ll have important information to share with school employees, from new policies and new hires to retirements and district updates. A great place to communicate these things is internally on an employee intranet/portal. You should also have a system in place to allow the correct people to be in notified in case of a violent incident. With the help of a platform like ActivityRight, you can create a mobile report with images and all of the necessary information. This will help ensure the district has less risk and liability in their internal reporting.
Figuring out new and different ways to engage parents is forever a priority. You’re always asking yourself: How can I engage parents on important topics like field trips and permission slips? With the help of a solution like ActivityRight, you can improve parent engagement and communication tenfold by adapting to modern communication preferences. Although you can’t assume everyone has a computer, nearly every family has a cell phone. In fact, research shows that up to 95 percent of parents own a smartphone. Students and their families are likely to engage using a convenient, mobile-friendly system that’s easy to access.
Measuring Your Communication Plan Results
Measurement is a critical piece of every strategy. By studying your results and optimizing your plan based on what you learn, you can ensure your efforts are as effective as possible. You should consider creating a survey to gather/collect feedback and learn how the changes are helping (or not helping) them. You can adjust your school communication plan based on your results and continue to learn and optimize as you go.
Changing the Game with Software
With an effective school communication plan in place, you can drive significant improvements to communication and engagement in your district. A comprehensive school solution like ActivityRight will help you increase efficiencies, boost parent engagement, minimize risk, and completely transform your district-wide communication.
ActivityRight is a mobile-friendly platform for parents, teachers, and school administration, designed to improve workflows, ensure compliance, and increase engagement. From permission forms and messaging to fee payments and reminders, ActivityRight has all the tools that teachers, staff, and district administration need, all in one place.
Download “The 3 Pillars of Parent Engagement” to learn how ActivityRight eases the process of compliant parent and family communication/engagement from start to finish.