Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Effective Communication Systems?

What is an effective communication system for a school or classroom?

How do you effectively communicate classroom goals, activities, processes and events?

What is too little communication, and what is too much communication?

Do you have a regular routine for communication with family members, students and colleagues?

As you can tell, I can be blamed for over communication--I like lead time, definition and precision when it comes to goals, activities and events.  I like to study issues with depth and reach a just right point of delivery, share and analysis.  I understand that school staff fall all along the communication lines--some rarely write a newsletter, don't have a website and haven't ventured into social media, and others are those of us who thrive with Twitter, blogs, newsletters and discussion.

What's the ideal?

As I begin to think about this, I believe the ideal includes the following:

1. A regular newsletter that outlines the good things that have happened (goals met), what's currently happening and events/goals on the horizon.  That keeps all members of the learning community in the loop with regard to goals and important events.

2. A website that includes all the resource information related to a classroom or school community--the go to place for dates, links and standard information.

3. Protocols about the best way to communicate issues on a regular basis--as a teacher, I prefer that parents and students email me when they have questions or thoughts.  My second favorite communication vehicle is a note sent to my attention via the student, and the third is a telephone call to the school (it's difficult for elementary school teachers to access phones so that's why it's my third choice).  If issues are big, I always prefer person-to-person conversation and talk, yet I'll often outline the issues in writing first to give all a chance to think about the topic.

4. A time line of main events, initiatives, and ways to prepare or get involved.  This provides a year map that lends the learning community a common language, focus and outlook.

In the days ahead, I'll think about the communication system for my classroom.  I want to clearly communicate the system at the start of the year so that all involved, families, students and colleagues, know they have a voice when it comes to our learning community's goals, vision, values, efforts and events.

How do you create a communication system for your learning community?  How does your school system employ a communication system for best effect?  How much and what kind of communication do you prefer as part of a learning team?  When is communication overwhelming or too much for you, and what's just right?

Apt communication matters, and attention to this area of school life is imperative in this time of ready social media and multiple communication tools.  Thanks in advance for your thoughts related to this topic.  I look forward to your ideas.