Communicating with the Community: Getting the Message Right

I attended messaging training this summer while at the Association for Middle Level Education Affiliate Summit. The training was put on by the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of 16 leading education associations all focused on improving learning in America's schools.

I know we are facing some communication challenges presently, and I suspect some of you are, too, so here are my notes on that session (cleaned up a little).

Key Questions to Shape Your Messaging:

  • What's your issue/messaging challenge?
  • Who should you be reaching out to?
  • What's your ask?

Key Findings from National Public Opinion Polls and Survey Data

  • Recent growing support for teachers
  • A belief that there is a lack of adequate funding
  • Rank local schools high but think country's schools are in trouble
  • Parents want to know how their child is progressing

Common Assumptions (from that national data)

  • The community can be influenced primarily by parents, students, teachers
  • Top education problems & issues: motivation, character, discipline, effort
  • Student success and teacher effectiveness = caring
  • Choice is good
  • Reforms need a lot more money
  • Everyone should have the opportunity to go to college
  • Individualization is needed to strengthen basics (not for innovation)
  • Education is a limited commodity (there is only so much to go around)

Common Agreements (from that national data)

  • Public schools are key to a nation's economic future
  • High quality pubic education is a right, not a luxury
  • Public education benefits society
  • Innovation is important, but don't experiment on my children – we need improvement
  • Goal of pubic education is the preparation needed to support our country's quality of life

Values That Work in the Community (from the national data)

  • Education is a shared investment
  • The current system needs updating to prepare students to live in a rapidly changing world
  • Improving education requires a practical set of iterative steps toward an ultimate goal
  • Issues of equity are about the distribution of resources, not about bad people (maybe about unlucky people, not bad people)
  • Don't say “my child” say “every child”

 

About Mike Muir

I'm an educator interested in collaborating with other educators on engaging all learners, proficiency-based learning, technology's role in learning, and leadership for school change.
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