Communicating effectively to people throughout your school district presents several challenges. What’s your message, who needs to hear what and, more and more, what vehicle is the most appropriate for each message. As digital platforms proliferate, things can be both quicker and easier. The challenge remains as it always has, though: how do you make best use of the marketing vehicle to deliver your message?
Read about five examples of school districts effectively sharing their stories using very different marketing tools:
1. District Website:
Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) reaches 35,000 students and their families, staff and community partners with their easy-to-use website. While a website is a must-have for any school district, a good website is more difficult to achieve. That is especially the case when you’re providing information to so many people about more than 50 schools. So what makes the CPS site stand out?
- The design is bright and clean with lots of photography. That combination makes you want to spend more time on the site.
- The web architecture, or how the information is organized, is done in as few broad categories as possible. This means fewer links cluttering up the navigation, as well as few clicks as possible to find what you need.
- The most important information – a login access point and an index of CPS site – is accessible through omnipresent links that float along the right-hand side of the site.
2. Classic School Building and Classroom Signs:
Garfield County School District 16 is communicating expectations to students and their families, as well as school staff, using signs throughout the schools in their district. Colorfully decorated bulletin boards in hallways and classrooms aren’t necessarily innovative, but the transparency of expectations at Garfield 16 is helping transform the district to be more student-centered and transparent.
Students at Garfield 16 are introduced to five habits of a learner that the district refers to as CRISP (collaboration, responsibility, inquiry, service and perseverance) and evidence of these habits are prominently displayed in hallways on different signs. While the communication may seem simple, it’s working.
“Students can be heard using CRISP language and holding each other accountable to being a Crew member,” KnowledgeWorks Director of Teaching and Learning Abbie Forbus said.
3. School and District Twitter Accounts:
In Marysville, Ohio, the community can keep up to date with what’s happening across the school district and in specific schools by checking Twitter. District staff are taking advantage of this social media platform to provide quick access to information and increasing transparency. Navin Elementary is building build school pride with the hashtag #NavinRocks. Student success is a common theme on the Marysville Early College High School account. Bigger news stories, announcements and celebrations are shared from the district account. Marysville Superintendent Diane Mankins and many school staff from across Marysville are actively communicating on Twitter, which helps foster easy, open communication.
Follow some of the Marysville Twitter accounts for idea of how to use that platform in your own school communications: @MarysvilleEVSD, @MarysvilleECHS, @BunsoldMS, @Edgewood_ES, @NavinElementary, @NorthwoodES and @Raymond_Elem.
In the Kenowa Hills Personal Mastery eNewsletter, the Kenowa Hills Public Schools District engages parents and community members on an ongoing discussion of the district’s transformation to personalized learning. Featuring guest writers, lots of photos from classrooms and bite-size stories, the newsletter is an easy way to deliver a lot of information without overwhelming people.
By incorporating various voices in their newsletter, Kenowa Hills is able to provide a platform by which many people can share messages along the same theme:
- “We wouldn’t expect most children to ride a bike first without training wheels, but the traditional education system commonly attempts to build upon prior learning even when the student hasn’t demonstrated proficiency in the foundational learning,” said Kenowa Hills Superintendent Gerald Hopkins when he explained the need for a competency-based progression.
- “Schools are transforming from the factory-model of education to one that is student-centered and designed to better prepare students for 21st Century college and career,” said Assistant Superintendent Mike Burde when reinforcing the need to transform education in a way that better serves students.
- “Within this shift towards personal mastery, Michigan is emerging when compared to many other states, and Kenowa Hills is leading the charge,” KnowledgeWorks Director of Teaching and Learning Laura Hilger said.
Communicating similar messages in different ways is a powerful way to reach more people. By giving voice to district leadership and partners, Kenowa Hills is creating more opportunities for open communication.
Mesa County Valley School District 51 (D51) provides rich professional development opportunities for their staff and is demonstrating their commitment to personalized learning through the Elevate Summit.
The D51 hosted their first Elevate Summit, they had more than 400 educators attend for integrated, cross-district, cross-role development. The second annual event occurred earlier this month and had 600 educators in attendance from D51 and surrounding districts.
“The district is creating a strong community of practice by hosting this conference,” Cris Charbonneau said. “It shows commitment from the educators there to the district vision and to providing students with rich personalized learning experiences.”
Now that the Elevate Summit has been opened up to additional communities near D51, the district is communicating personalized learning best practices to a wide audience and positioning themselves as leaders.
— Virgel Hammonds (@VirgelHammonds) August 1, 2017