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High- and Low-Tech Communications

Communicator
March 2016, Volume 39, Issue 7

Twitter turned 10 this month, and the social network was abuzz with cheer and reflections on its evolution. For principals, the past decade has ushered in a plethora of new ways to connect, but social media and new tools are just one avenue for communicating with students, parents, staff, and community. And if we’ve learned anything in the past decade it is this: Principals must fine-tune the purpose for deciding to use a platform, and always customize for the specific audience. This process often reveals the need for a combination of both high- and low-tech communication strategies. Use this menu of tools to differentiate your message to meet your school community’s needs.

High-Tech Tools
Use the following high-tech tools daily to communicate and engage families and stakeholders.

  • Facebook: The majority of our families who use social media consider Facebook their go-to platform. As a school, we created a Facebook page after listening to the feedback provided by our stakeholders.
  • Twitter: Our following remains small, but we continue to post on this platform because it allows quick, concise messages with the ability to grow professionally as resources are shared continuously.
  • Remind: This mass text messaging system is free and has contributed to increased engagement and involvement. The text messages can be scheduled and come from a third-party number that allows users to share information through text without revealing personal cell phone numbers.
  • Storify: For the non-social media users in your setting, Storify allows you to collect and archive tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and more. The archived link can be included in an email, posted to a website, or linked to a Remind mass text message.
  • Google Forms, Docs, and Spreadsheets: Google tools have allowed us to solicit quick and concise feedback from stakeholders when decisions need to be made.

Low-Tech Strategies
Low-tech strategies are equally important to maximize positive relationships with stakeholders. Our daily low-tech tools and strategies include the following.

  • Notes: We continue to send notes home in folders with students because a large number of families prefer this method. We post everything that we send by hard copy to our social media and Web-based outlets as well.
  • Parent meetings: There is no substitute for face-to-face interaction where we are able to interpret body language, hear tone, and demonstrate mutual respect toward each other.
  • Home visits: There are times when our families are unable to get to school, so we make the effort to connect with them in their homes. Through this practice, we have gained tremendous insight about our students and families.
  • Email: Families are busy and often cannot take calls during the day, but they are usually able to access email at work.
  • School website: There is still a place for school websites. To maximize the effectiveness, link other platforms to your website, such as Twitter or Facebook pages.

This article was adapted from “Social Media 3.0” by Daniel Butler, which was published in the May/June2015 issue of Principal magazine.

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