Our Why for Communication
The definition of “communication,” according to Merriam-Webster, is “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.” It is also described as personal rapport.
In our Title 1 elementary school, effective, engaging, and purposeful communication is our desire and focus. Our staff thrives on making sure that parents are fully aware of the happenings of school both in the classroom and the total school program. Being in the know helps everyone to grow and thrive, as all stakeholders have a part in the academic, social, and emotional growth of our young, impressionable students aged preschool through fifth grade.
Our How of Communication
The old saying “it takes a village” certainly is emphasized when our staff plans, implements, and maintains effective lines of communication. One area of focus for our teachers is two smartphone applications called Seesaw and Dojo. With these tools, parents can not only communicate easily with the teachers throughout the day (receiving pictures, positive feedback, etc.) but also hear more about the happenings at school. Along with this, the secretary and bookkeeper send out messages about school and community events through another online tool called Apptegy Thrillshare. School happenings, T-shirt ordering, PTO events and fundraisers, and other important school messages are easily conveyed to parents in a timely manner when they receive these specific emails and texts.
Beyond the emails, texts, and classroom teacher contacts, I, as the school leader, strive to make my conversations up-front, candid, kind, and personal. Making phone calls to parents and guardians for both positive and negative behaviors is incredibly important. Taking time to actively listen to parents to ascertain their needs and desires is step one; knowing how to respond and assist is another. This form of two way communication is healthy and productive in the long run.
Video newsletters are also built into our school-to-home communication. I, along with a chosen staff member, have a sit down conversation about the school’s culture, innerworkings, and overall mission (we title it “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, and Healthy Relationships”). When parents can put a friendly, welcoming, and joyful face to the name of the principal, they are more likely to feel comfortable reaching out to me for any and all matters related to their children or the school.
Besides far-reaching and detailed school-to-home communication, parents and guardians are invited to school events, field trips, and lunch with their children, and they can volunteer in the classroom or help in the school garden. Our belief is that family connections to the school in any capacity build and foster this important relationship.
Our reading specialists are most certainly at the forefront of parent communication, not only because of the Title 1 requirements from our division and state, but also because they are passionate about helping families to develop and foster literacy skills at home. Title 1 schools are ones that have large numbers of low-income students, and because of this, they receive additional state funds to assist with students’ educational goals.
Without a doubt, our high-poverty public school is in need of tools and resources to optimally help our students with reading. However, the best teachers are the parents in the work they do outside of school. Having their support is paramount, and giving families the tools for success is also critical.
Along with the aforementioned means of communication, our school’s Facebook page is highly active and highlights the determined efforts of the work we do at school. This is an abridged version of this article. To read more, subscribe to the print or digital edition of Christian Educators Journal.
Merriam-Webster. “Communication.” Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed 8 Oct. 2023.
Dr. Tammy T. May is the principal of Lacey Spring Elementary School in Rockingham County, Virginia. As a determined school leader in a public school, she is focused on servant leadership and showing God’s love through her actions and words.