Relating to your school community
School communities are microcosms of the college to which they belong. From the gossiping mums in the car park, to the committed support group presidents and time poor teachers, they are all part of a myriad of relationships joined by a common cause - educating children.
All of these relationships represent opportunities to build your school culture. How do you harness the power of these opportunities so the relationships your key stakeholders have with your school, resonant with your school values and serve to build your school's brand and profile?
The answer? Through focused and conscious communications.
Here are ten ways to harness the power of your relationships.
1. Develop a deliberate and intentional communications strategy
The primary purpose of communications is to build relationships.
Engagement, transparency and vision casting are key ingredients of communications which build strong and prolific relationships based on trust and loyalty.
An intentional communications strategy that focuses on nurturing relationships with internal key stakeholders (parents and staff) is vital for building a connected and vibrant school culture. The strategy needs to align with your strategic plan and be designed to build relationships that resonate with your school's values and key messages.
2. Set your vision
Cast the vision for your school in an engaging way and bring your school community on the journey with you.
Answer questions like 'Why does our school exist?', 'What are our future goals?' and 'What difference will our school make to the lives of our students?'.
3. Build pride in your school
Celebrate and acknowledge your school's and students' achievements that are true examples of your school's values and vision, which bring them to life.
Involving teachers in the process of identifying these opportunities is effective in building school pride also.
4. Build your profile
Position the school as a leader in education through securing media opportunities and other communication initiatives.
Through association, this will foster school pride and the respect of your internal stakeholders, while building your school's profile.
5. The Principal principle
Just as students and staff look up to the Principal as their esteemed leader, so too do the parents and the wider school community view him/her as the champion leader of the school.
As the key figurehead of the school, it's imperative that the brand and profile of the Principal is carefully developed and managed.
Ultimately the associations with and perceptions of the Principal are a major component of the relationships internal stakeholders have with the school.
6. Be seen
Principals who are visible at their schools through simple actions such as greeting parents and students before or after school and at Open Days, gain a lot in the relationships stakes. It's easier for people to engage with Principals (and therefore the school) who are approachable, rather than those who are locked away in their office.
Simple activities such as online videos or including photos of the Principal with students in newsletters, will also serve to humanise him/her.
7. Be known
Let members of your school community 'get to know' the Principal. By sharing personal interests, viewpoints, passions and being personable, this will allow people to engage with the school in a deeper way.
8. Be heard
Define your school's value proposition and key messages then reinforce it in your school community through consistent communications that are on-message.
Your internal stakeholders will be looking for affirmation of the brand promise they purchased or signed up to at the enrolment or recruitment stage. Reinforcing this serves to build trust and enrich these relationships.
9. Engage, interact and connect
Look for opportunities to engage and interact with your school community such as at school events. Having information stands and opportunities for parents to interact with teachers and staff is valuable in building relationships.
Your school events can be used as vehicles for building your school brand and culture through designing events that are on message and on brand, and that provide a positive experience of your school, which in turn reinforces relationships.
10. Wield the impressions your school makes wisely
Remember everything you say and do as a school, impacts on your relationships.
Through development and execution of a considered and integrated communications strategy, you can harness these opportunities to serve you in building your school brand and culture.