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How well do you communicate?

August 22, 2005

Hello again. I've noticed how many schools have difficulties that, when analyzed, are essentially communication problems. All organizations have to communicate externally and internally. As external communications affect enrolments, more effort is often put into external communications: PR, advertising, attendance at fairs and conferences, etc. than internal communications. A typical picture I receive is of a school where the administration exerts much effort in relating to its potential clients but often negelects communications with teachers.

On the other hand, teachers and students relate well because they have direct communication. Students, unlike teachers, may also relate well to management and administration because clear channels are established to deal with their queries. But teachers and management may appear to be on opposite sides of the fence because no thought has been given to internal communications. Or, where a system exists, it is too rigid or intimidating for teachers to feel they can participate.

Ultimately this will affect the school's reputation because teachers who feel sidelined will establish rapport with students and start to transmit negative vibes about the school. The solution is for the school to submit itself to a frank communications audit.

This entails identifying each section of the school and itemising the nature of the communications each has with the other. Once a list is available, each member of each section should be interviewed to establish their opinion of the communications provision. This is like assembling a jigsaw. When the picture is complete you should be able to see where the soruces of dissatisfaction lie. Do teachers feel they are not consulted? Do they feel that their side is not taken into account if disputes with students arise? Do they feel management is unapproachable? Do they find meetings too formaL? Do they feel that nobody listens to them or takes notice of their concerns? This information is invaluable. it will allow you to identify problems and seek solutions

It's a bit like constipation! Unblock your channels of communication and you will have a healthier school and happier teachers.

Bye for now.

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