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Sunday, March 08, 2015

Caring, Consistent, Comprehensive, Transparent Communication is Critical

A friend who is a teacher called to tell me a story about a colleague. Basically the story described an educator with good ideas, but poor communication skills. I wondered aloud with my friend about that colleague's experience with communication and voice.

"Communications" is a popular college major, but today "communications" needs to be on everyone's agenda when it comes to learning because like no time ever before, communication today is critical. As we become more and more entwined as citizens of a global economy and community, we need to focus on how, when, where, why, and what we communicate.

Transparent, consistent, caring, and comprehensive communication patterns create successful teams and organizations. And to best create those patterns, we have to look deeply at the context, people, history, and current mission and goals that make up an organization.

We all bring to our organizations communication patterns, beliefs, protocols, and focus somewhat different from one another. How we were raised, our cultures, gender, family life, education, and peers all influence our communication knowledge, use, and share.

It is important that organizations, big and small, make communication an explicit topic of conversation and focus. A question list like the one below can help an organization move in this direction.
  • How would we describe "good communication" with regard to our communication with students, families, colleagues, leaders, and the community?
  • What words and phrases are outdated now, and what should we replace those words and phrases with? (My colleague and I actually made a poster about this that we'll share soon)
  • What is a good regularity of communication? What should that communication include?
  • What seems like too much communication, and what seems like too little?
  • What kind of communication propels us forward in ways that make a positive difference to students' and teachers' learning and experiences in school?
  • What kinds of protocols will help us to communicate well as individuals and as an organization?
  • What are the best vehicles for communication, and when are those vehicles best used?
  • How do you access communication? What patterns of review and share do you use?
If you've posted about communication with respect to your work as an educator or with regard to your organization, I'd be interested in reading what you have to say. Communication can be a delicate subject since it is tied so closely with our values, beliefs, history, culture, and voice. The work we do in this area needs to be kind, sensitive, and thoughtful. I will think more on this in the days to come and look forward to your share in the meantime.