School leaders around the country are feeling caught in the middle of differing opinions and perspectives. It can feel overwhelming even under normal circumstances - but as we all know, we are not in normal circumstances.
So, what do we do about it? In the words of Mad Men mastermind Don Draper, “If you don’t like what’s being said - change the conversation.”
Fans of the hit show know, Don Draper is direct and often brash - the point for schools is that they cannot sit back and do nothing. Schools need to be talking and often, they are not. Or not enough.
Now, more than ever it is time to double-down on your communications. Invest in regular, consistent communication strategies that meet each audience in your community through email, social media and print.
The best way to change the conversation is to start talking!
If the vocal minority are the loudest, you need to provide the vast majority with good news and stories to share. Empower your parents, alumni and partners with great stories to repeat when out and about in your neighborhoods.
I think you’ll be happily surprised with just how far good news travels in 2021. It goes without saying, these past few years have been hard on many of us and your community members are no different - everyone wants to see positive news in their inbox and on their social media feeds. You may even have a post go viral like this story featuring the cheerleaders at Kettering City Schools.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Ask your teachers and staff to send you highlights from the classroom and extracurriculars.
- Don’t forget your alumni - many are still in your community and can spread the word to a different audience. Feature alumni volunteering in your schools or sharing “where are they now” to highlight success after graduation.
- Start a superintendent award to shine a spotlight on students and staff for embodying school spirit and positive character.
If you don’t tell your story, someone else will - don’t let it be the vocal minority. You and your staff are working too hard to hand over the power of your story.