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One district eliminated the many disparate school communication solutions it was using and replaced them with a reliable unified solution.

4 ways transparent communication builds trust in our district


One district eliminated the many disparate solutions its schools were using and replaced them with a reliable unified solution

One of the best ways to build trust with parents is through transparent communication about what’s happening on campus, the status of all things school-related, and how we’re meeting our students’ needs.

Parents are busy and don’t always have time to chase this information down on their own, so it’s up to district and school leaders to open up those clear lines of communication and then use them.

Technology is a great enabler for districts that want to do a better job in this area. By using our ParentSquare safe and secure platform for school-home communications, we’re getting rid of the many disparate solutions that our schools were using—including social media—and replacing them with a unified solution that everyone can use and rely on.

Here are four ways that we’re using technology to build trust with parents, keep them in the know and open even more lines of communication with them:

  1. Get everyone on the same page. With five schools and 3,000 students on one campus, our district was using a mix of different applications for school-home communications.  The district had tried a couple of different mass communication platforms but found them to have limited features and not user friendly.  For example, you couldn’t cue up multiple messages to be delivered.  Individual teachers—who didn’t have access to these platforms—were using social media and programs like ClassDojo to communicate with families. None of these platforms “talked” to one another and finding coherence in this disjointed technology was basically impossible. Our new communications platform provides a cohesive, standardized form of communication across the district. 
  1. Always use two-way communications. Giving parents a way to ask questions and get responses to them is very important, too. As districts, we can become too distant from our parents, who don’t feel like they can stay connected or get in touch with a teacher to find out what’s going on with their child. Or, they have no idea how to let a teacher know that they’re concerned about an issue. The trick is to come up with ways to make them more accessible and respect our teachers’ time, which is also very important. With our two-way school-home communications platform, there’s always the opportunity for open dialogue and sharing between teachers, staff, and parents.

Related:
How your communication strategies create safe schools
How to ensure clear communication with your paraprofessionals

  1. Continually train teachers on the platform’s new features. Teachers are very busy and don’t always have the time to try to figure out the inner workings of a new technology. They want to be shown the tools and how to use them effectively in the classroom. Early on we did a good job getting people on the platform and showing them how to post and direct message. Now, we want them to keep coming back to learn about new features, like permission forms, Secure Document Delivery, and so forth.
  1. Lay out the framework for success. To other schools that want to get the biggest value from their school-home communication platforms, I’d suggest mapping out all the platform’s features on the front end and then create a timeline for rolling out each of those functionalities. For example, before school starts, you could train teachers how to create a post and have everyone actually create a post by a given date; approximately four weeks later, as you near the time of progress reports, train personnel in how to use Document Delivery; a few weeks later, as you approach the time for parent-teacher conferences, show everyone how to do signups. Set up “help desk” tables at open houses and other events that parents attend, knowing that they might need some help and encouragement using the platform and/or app. It’s not difficult to use, but providing that instruction is always easier when you have a captive audience. 

Pulling it All Together

Today, we’re better able to provide support because we’re using one tool. We’re not maintaining multiple tools and different platforms, which means we can provide even more support to our parents and our internal staff. For example, our IT team is now freed up to work on more important tasks than having to troubleshoot across numerous different platforms.

At the end of the day, there has to be a partnership between the school and parents in order for the needs of our children to be met. If we’re going to have that strong partnership, we need strong lines of open, honest, transparent, and respectful two-way communication.

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