Communication on the Front Lines by Joseph Tramontana
There needs to be strong communication on the front lines in school districts. A Chief School Administrator generally has many supervisory layers under him/her. The communication chain from the top directly to the teacher or parent can be quite long. School leadership may overly depend on a long chain of command, when it comes to the communication process. Generally communications are filtered through the principals, directors, and supervisors regarding critical issues. However, as social scientists have always taught us, the information that can become skewed before it reaches its final destination.
The goals and objectives of a school district need to clearly understood by the front line employees and the parents for success to be realized. Leaders must deeply understand the needs of front line employees and the parents. The Chief School Administrator must have direct and regular communication with the teaching staff. This way they directly know the problems of the teaching staff and the expectations of the parents. Communicating directly with the teaching staff and parents also provides critical information and in many cases reveals creative solutions to problems.
This can start by regularly attending teacher staff meetings, without the Principal present, and find out directly what is going on in the trenches instead of relying on other interpretations. The same can be said for communicating directly with parents. Regular attendance at PTA meetings, where the Superintendent can listen to questions and concerns directly from parents, is a great idea as well.
When you listen to the front line school employees and parents you empower them as well. They begin to feel they are part of the decision-making process. Communicate your goals and strategies to the parents, students and teachers. In addition, listen directly to their problems and concerns on a regular basis. Then you will be armed with the information to make meaningful change, because you developed strong communication on the front lines.