Sunday, May 10, 2015

Meet Your Stakeholders Where They Are

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to have an article published in the digital version of ASCD's Educational Leadership.  The title of the article was Transforming Your School with Digital Communication. As technology continues to evolve it will continue to become an even more embedded component of society. With that being said it is important for school leaders to meet their stakeholders where they are at and engage them in two-way communications.  Digital leadership calls for a multifaceted approach using both traditional and new age strategies to ensure that the right message is reaching stakeholders in a timely fashion.  We can't assume nor rely on communication staples such as snail mail (i.e. paper mailings), newsletters, or websites are the most effective and only ways to get information out.

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In the article I highlight four reasons why all leaders should embrace a digital communications strategy:
  1. Transparency - Leaders can tackle the constant perception battle by providing more frequent and accurate updates about the daily work occurring in schools.  This requires sharing challenges as well as successes and opening yourself to feedback from anyone. In the end transparency through digital communications helps to build positive relationships with key stakeholders.
  2. Flexibility - A multifaceted digital communications strategy allows all stakeholders a choice as to how they want to consume information and interact with the school. An added bonus is that there are so many free tools such as Twitter, Google+, blogs, Facebook, and Remind that are free for all to use.
  3. Expanded access to learning - In my case digital communications opened my eyes to new and more powerful ways to learn.  I then began sharing with groups of teachers several ideas, strategies, and tools I'd acquired from my personal learning network (PLN). As our learning culture began to change it was critical that I was able to articulate these changes to my stakeholders.
  4. Sharing the good news - Digital communications compliments and/or enhances any public relations plan.  In a time when good news about schools is hard to come by in the mainstream media school leaders can now become the storyteller-in-chief.  Digital communications act to amplify the successes that are taking place in schools every day.
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To use social media effectively, you need to see yourself as a learner, not just a leader. Making the shift from traditional to digital leadership demands that you question your own assumptions, acknowledge how much you don't know, take risks, and learn from failure.  Just as teachers differentiate instruction for a variety of learning styles in the classroom, school leaders should differentiate communication efforts if the goal is true partnerships between home and school. Leaders have the power to shape the culture of schools. Using social media and digital tools as a lever, you can open the door to new ways of learning, thinking, and communicating for all members of your community.

1 comment:

  1. I believe that it is so important to develop effective strategies to improve the way students are educated. Being transparent with your staff show I think he leader's commitment to be fair and share what the common goal is for the school. Teachers need that reassurance from the leadership that you value them as educators and respect the job that they are trying to do for their school and most important for the students.