Keep the Communication Going

Four ways to engage with students and families over summer break

Topics: Assistant Principals, Family and Stakeholder Engagement

The stillness of a school building over the summer isn’t something that’s imaginable during the school year. Students may not even realize that people continue to work in schools over the summer, but administrators are quietly finishing end-of-year tasks and looking ahead to the start of the new school year.

You have a lot to accomplish over the summer, and student and family communication might take a back seat to everything else on the to-do list. Don’t let it! The more you can do to keep in touch, the easier your job will be when the hallways fill up again. Here are four ideas APs can use to maintain communication with students and families over the break:

  • Use technology to engage. Most APs know they can share information via email and social media, but they can also request a response. Ask students what they’ve been doing during the summer, what books they’ve read, or if they’ve been able to teach a family member something they learned last year. Students and families can respond to the email/social media post or jot down their answers and return them at the start of the school year.
  • Be visible at pickup/drop-off. Many schools now offer summer programming, and the AP should continue to be visible at pickup/drop-off times. Since there are fewer students and less rush, it’s a good time to connect with families on a more personal level; talking casually about summer happenings helps connect with students and families.
  • Meet new students and families. Summertime brings new registrations, and APs should set aside uninterrupted time with new students and families. Offer them a building tour! This gives new students and their parents an opportunity to have a connection in the building prior to the first day of school, as well as private time to ask questions.
  • Share videos. Another way to keep the flow of information going is to make and share videos of what’s happening at the school when most students and staff aren’t there. Maybe the building is being deep-cleaned, repainted, or renovated; providing regular updates can generate broader interest in school happenings and back-to-school deadlines.

AP is a year-round job, and anything you can do to encourage communication during the “lazy days” of summer will help you build relationships and manage the school when throngs of kids return in the fall.

Maura Clinton-Jones is assistant principal of Griffin Memorial School in Litchfield, New Hampshire.