Every educator needs to communicate. And communicate well. How can you improve your communication? Make these small adjustments for the rest of this school year and then plan to make these adjustments for next school year to improve your communication.
This School Year Communication
Post the same information in several places. Why? Because when your students, or families find the information on their first try they will feel successful and think highly of your organization.
Email Answer Time
Aside from urgent emails, consider breaking your parents from expecting an immediate response. It is not efficient to answer each email as it comes in, and you are training parents to send multiple emails and potentially hijack your class time. Set aside time during planning to open and answer parent emails. If parents become concerned at the change in your frequency in your Inbox, consider adding to your email signature, “emails returned within 24 hours.”
Make your classwork more available online. No, you cannot go paperless all at once. However these are some places to start. Start with the items that students/parents are most often requesting new copies of: study guides? project rubrics? Take those couple/few documents and find a place to post them online for this school year. You know your families, but I suggest Google Docs.
Next School Year Communication
Prepare by posting the basic information families and students seek in as many places as you imagine may be checked. Use the same messaging to ‘check your website/Google Classroom/whatever first,’ but then post everywhere someone could conceivably check. This extra work by you pays off when you do not have to answer the same question/request 30-150 times over. That and your sanity, it saves your sanity.
Email Answer Time
In addition to cleaning up your email response time, there are further steps you could take to streamline email efficiency. Add an automatic response or filter emails by sender. Add your response time to your Syllabus, website, and email signature (if you didn’t already do that last year).
Strategically select the most important, most frequently requested, or the item which causes you the most hassle to reproduce. I suggest you make all of any type of item available online all year; that might mean all your study guides, or projects. You want students and families to associate that type of work with that online location(s). This is some front end loading on your part, but has huge efficiency gains over the course of a school year for you too!
Hopefully these immediate and long-term changes can make an impact on your quality of communication and the experience of your students and families – and for you!
What other tips might you have for improving communication right now and into next school year?