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- Make your professional email and Twitter accounts available this way parents can contact you at their convenience. If you have not created such an account for your school I highly recommend that you do. During the beginning of each school year I send home a letter to all parents that provides detailed information on what Twitter is, how to create an account, and configuring the settings to receive SMS text messages. This versatility, allowing parents to receive updates on their own terms, makes Twitter unlike any traditional communication tool that I’ve ever used as a principal. As far as transparency goes, is there any application more effective than Twitter? In response to parent feedback I created an "Official" school account (NewMilfordHS). The NMHS Twitter page includes a link to the school’s main website as well as our school’s colors, mascot and logo. This makes our page stand out to viewers and establishes a brand presence. Information tweeted out from this account in real-time includes sports scores, special schedules, school news, student achievements, staff accomplishments, campus weather, and emergency information.
- Create your own website and include contact information, availability to meet with or speak to parents, extra help hours, student assignments, press, etc. This is also a great way to convey to parents your philosophy on education, professional accomplishments, and vision for helping students succeed. My website can be viewed by clicking this link.
- Hold training workshops for parents.
- Call home on both positive and negative issues.
- Share as many student and teacher accomplishments and success stories as possible. Parents want and need to hear the great things happening in our buildings and classrooms. I do this through a monthly Principal's Report.
- Set up a separate phone number for parents using Google Voice.
- Make resources readily available for parents using a social bookmarking service.
- ALWAYS return parent phone calls and emails in a timely fashion!
- Invite parents into your classrooms/schools.
- Develop a school Facebook page to advertise events and provide up to date school information. The NMHS Facebook page has now become our informational hub that parents have come to rely on.
- Institute a positive referral policy and make parents aware of when their child is recognized.
- Start a blog, let parents know about it, and encourage them to comment on your posts. Blogs are fantastic communication tools where parents can get a glimpse into your educational life.
- Look for other means to reach stakeholders. In my quest to create a paperless environment at NMHS I discovered ZippSlip. This free solution not only allows my parents to sign and submit all school forms electronically, but it also provides me a portal to send email messages to my parents.
If we’re going to succeed as a school, I’ve got to get several different stakeholder groups---parents, students, community leaders, and businesses---to buy into a set of core beliefs. That means I’m constantly trying to craft messages that have resonance and to deliver those messages in ways that are likely to be heard. In many ways, communication is the most important thing I do every day. These are just some ideas and strategies that I have either utilized during my six plus years as an educator or are going to implement. I encourage you to share your thoughts on these ideas and some of the successful ways in which you have fostered positive lines of communication with your parents.