Source: Globe, Clker, http://bit.ly/1CVSonk; Thinking Person, Clker, http://bit.ly/1EmDSQV; Sign, Pixabay, http://bit.ly/1SNbLUR; Team, Pixabay, http://bit.ly/1SNbOju; Construction, Pixabay, http://bit.ly/1CvMDIP
Hello there, and welcome. An important skill to have in most professions is that of communication. In this lesson we will look at the importance of effective communication strategies in the context of site based management. So let's get started.
Have you ever had the experience of going through the process of building or renovating a home? It can be exciting, but also extremely stressful. You first have to start with, you guessed it, a plan. You will need an architect. Then you might want to talk to a designer. Once you have secured a general contractor, work begins with demolition and is followed by framers, electricians, plumbers, finish carpenters, installers, painters, and cleaners. All these folks are working toward the same goal, but it takes a number of smaller teams to get the job done.
There are many important reasons to consider having a plan in place to specifically address communication. What should it look like? How often? Who gets it and when? So many questions that you probably have never stopped to think about are so extremely important and will have an impact on your entire organization. Let's take a look at some important pieces of advice that can help you develop a plan for communication.
The quality of communication must be solid and handled openly. Transparency is the key word when it comes to communication, especially when it's about data connected to any established goals. One of the main reasons for a communication plan is to get your message across to the stakeholders, and build support for your school or district. When stakeholders feel like they have an understanding and are part of what you are doing, it will improve the efficiency of implementation, as well as increase the likelihood of sustainability. Although communication of the school improvement plan is mandated by law, it is certainly not the only initiative that should be shared openly. It is recommended that any site based initiative include a component that speaks to communication.
Not all communication plans are created equally, and it's my hope that by watching this video you'll learn how to create a great one. To do so you'll want to include the following. Like any plan that you put work into, you will want to establish and share the goals of it. Furthermore, stakeholders will want to know the purpose and what you expect the outcomes to be. Members of the team and those who are charged with implementing the plan will need their roles and responsibilities clearly defined so that they can do their job. It also helps if this information is listed on the document, along with the level of involvement. This will help to hold everyone accountable.
Another essential component to a communication plan are the action steps you'll need to execute. With any plan, you need to know if it's working, so your plan should include a method in which you will measure and report that progress. And once your plan is established, you will want to share it regularly with the public. This will keep it fresh in everyone's mind and promote its value.
Researchers Mark Van Clay, Perry Soldwedel, and Thomas Meany identify some essential roles that are necessary for successful implementation of site based management. In schools, different teams take on different roles depending on the responsibility that they are charged with. The roles are strategic, tactical, and operational. Let's begin with strategic, which of course refers to strategy or the overall plan. This team's responsibilities include communicating and establishing the vision, mission, and the goals of the district. It is important for this team to look at the big picture and really look beyond the day to day operations. Although this team can be established at the school level, it is more likely to be found at the district level. Because of the nature of the work, it definitely helps to have administrators on board, and teachers as well. However, teams are not bound to this. Some common examples of a strategic team might include your school committee or a school improvement team.
Some teams focus on the approaches to achieving the overall plan, including the development and communication of them. These are called tactical teams. They are typically charged with the task of planning and implementing site based initiatives. Much like strategic teams, tactical teams usually include administrators and principles as key members.
Finally the teams that focused on turning strategies and approaches into action are called operational teams. Like the others, an operational team is also driven by overall plan. Although their purpose is defined by leadership, this team does set goals, implements, and communicates the tactics. Therefore typically include teachers and other staff members that work directly with students, like teacher assistants and perhaps specialists as well.
Those aren't necessarily the only teams in place. There could also be site based management approaches, such as collaborative and advisory. Collaborative teams are just that, collaborative. They are smaller groups that work together. They too have goals and objectives, and are expected to communicate their progress. Advisory teams are not considered decision making bodies, but rather they do much of the leg work in terms of investigating and researching an area identified for school improvement. The outcome of their work is usually a recommendation to the strategic team, school improvement team, or administration based upon their findings.
Here's an example. A district makes the decision to move from half day kindergarten to full day kindergarten. A couple years prior to it becoming a reality, a strategic team is put into place, including teachers and administrators, to research the topic and develop a line of vision and mission for the plan. They in turn charge a tactical team, made up of teachers and administrators, to plan and communicate how it will be rolled out and implemented. In this scenario, the operational team is made up of the teachers and support staff who will be responsible for making all day kindergarten work. As you can see there's overlap among team members who have to wear different hats, but having them on multiple teams ensures a measure of continuity. These teams, although separate, must be on the same page in order to achieve their goals, and strong communication plays an important part of that.
So it's time to go ahead and recap this lesson. We looked at the different teams in site based management, and their roles and responsibilities, with special attention paid to communication. After sharing some advice about communication, we covered five different teams-- strategic, tactical, operational, collaborative, and advisory.
And now some food for thought. Reflect on the types of teams that were introduced in this video and conduct a scavenger hunt. Make a list of teams from your school or district and place them in one of the categories. For more information on how to apply what you learned in this video, check out the additional resources that accompany this presentation. The resources section include hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource.
That's all for this lesson. Thanks for watching. We'll see you next time.
(02:00-02:59) Communication Plan
(03:00-04:47) Communication and Teams
(04:48-05:22) Collaborative and Advisory
(06:13-07:03) Food For Thought/Summary
11 Ways to Improve School Communications and Community Engagement
This Glossary of Education Reform entry provides practical advice for improving school communication around reform initiatives. There are links with definitions and examples for educators to follow.
Communicating to Engage Stakeholders in School Improvement
The big ideas presented in this handout are best practice considerations in communicating school improvement initiatives with the community for support and engagement.