Eight methods to enhance relationships between faculties and communities
8 things teachers can do to improve their bedside manners
through Teach Thought Personal
Editor’s note: Although the word “parent” is used, the premise of the article is really about how schools communicate with communities in general. Whether the communication is intended for grandparents raising a child, a local organization working with schools, or the parents themselves, the point is communication.
Like doctors, teachers also have a “way beyond themselves” – a sideways way.
If you’ve ever been to a doctor’s bedside with bad manners, you know how important those manners can be. Doctors who appear to be floating in the room above you, use language you barely understand (or say very little), rush their time with you, and leave you a prescription on the way out are all too common.
This is not a major doctoral thesis, but a doctor in the service of medicine or the profession. A doctor who has always wanted to be a doctor and sees himself as a doctor – a doctor with a certificate on the wall stating that he is in fact a doctor.
A doctor is, at best, half of a relationship that requires a patient in need of care, plus medicine, research, insurance, and so on. In lieu of their legendary applause, a doctor is no more important than a sick patient.
You can’t be a great doctor if you don’t care about patients – and you can’t be a great teacher if you don’t care about students and communities.
An example of the babble districts they give to communities
It’s no secret that the distance between schools and families is growing, rather than using the tools available to connect them.
Whether it’s “new math,” a perceived lack of homework, confusion about standards and required assessment practices, or a variety of other reasons, schools have long ago turned inward by forging new bonds with companies, technology brands, universities, and “brands “ have tested. and even among themselves, while the bonds between classrooms and communities wither.
For a case in point, see the letter below, written by Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky (several years ago). While well-intentioned, there is little here that would resonate with families and communities, particularly those with whom they so desperately need to connect.
Just look at the choice of words.
commissioned…external…goal setting…auditor…headquarters…organizational structure…audit…plan…system…monitor…goals…prepare…measurable…work…align…expected…55,000 degree goals……position…progress…management…guidance…governance…deviations… to enhance!
And, all bunched up in the last paragraph on the way to the door? community, learning and family.
The tone is both sterile and somewhat concerned. Even the font is difficult to read, and the overall aesthetic — from the form and tone to the diction and the evidence cited — is decidedly corporate.
We’ve been audited, but don’t worry – we will be transparent and work hard to achieve our goals.
That can’t be our best thinking. Can you imagine a doctor talking to you like this about your pregnancy or high blood pressure or your child’s illness?
So how can we improve? A lot of this is common sense—smiling, making eye contact, listening instead of waiting your turn, making meaningful invitations, using positive assumptions when talking about your child, and more.
Below are eight critical features of functional and growth-oriented school-to-home communication that we might consider. If you can only do most of these most of the time, your bedside teaching style can become one of your most important teaching tools.
8 things teachers can do to improve their bedside manner: Improving the relationship between schools and communities
1. Speak like a human.
Schools should communicate with people as if they were people and not co-managers of the walking vessels of knowledge that will eventually reflect the school’s failures and successes in a future pie chart.
Education serves people, not the other way around. Our teaching and learning systems exist, among other things, to create educated citizens who can live well. In this way, the terms of communication between schools and communities should be based on human compassion, language and tone.
Just as even a brilliant doctor struggles with his bedside manners, our teachers, administrators, and superintendents also suffer from the educational equivalent.
If it’s “parent-centric,” then at worst, every message should be information that those parents need to know, communicated in a way they understand.
If it doesn’t sound like one caring person is speaking to another caring person on an equal footing and without patronizing, don’t send it.
2. Communicate with, not to.
Whenever possible, schools should communicate with parents in a way that encourages dialogue. This is influenced by…
1. What is being discussed (topics that can benefit from dialogue, not decisions already made)
2. How it is discussed (debate, conversation, collaboration, board vs. crowded room with a mic, over chili and bad punch, etc.)
3. Where it is discussed (in person, on the phone, at parent-teacher conferences, etc.)
4. Why it is being discussed (to solve a problem, brainstorm, clarify, iterate, reflect, etc.)
If it doesn’t sound like one caring person is speaking to another caring person on an equal footing and without patronizing in a way that benefits from or enables a useful response, don’t send it.
3. Have a point and make it actionable.
Not all communication will conform to this trait, but to a large extent, communication with parents should have a purpose that leads to something outside of the heads being communicated between.
Put another way, this message should make a difference, and since there are communities as to why schools exist, it makes sense that families (even if they don’t respond and don’t show up and never text back and don’t understand etc.) should often respond to any ” communication”. Getting back to business language, if every message has a specific call-to-action, then it follows that every message would lead to change.
Got a budget issue you want to share with local businesses? Ask them to provide a tip or resource through Google Forms.
Would you like to introduce a new program? Ask parents to attend a meeting—or even a simple webinar—to learn what the program is and what you hope it will bring.
State tested and want to forestall the confusion about the results? Create an image with the data and your response, then start a conversation about the plan, which can lead to community-wide support in the form of donations, committee formation, voting, working with students through project-based learning, and more.
If it doesn’t sound like one caring person is speaking to another caring person on an equal footing and without patronizing, in a way that benefits from, or facilitates a useful response or action on the part of the reader, send it Not .
4. Be consistent.
In both frequency and message, help parents understand what to expect from you, and when and how to expect it—and how to help.
Consistency is the difference between forming a message or forming a relationship.
5. Try to relate the purpose of the message to the purpose of the school.
Don’t send home a newsletter about paving the school parking lot or asking for door prizes for a school dance if they haven’t heard the first word about their children’s learning and well-being all year.
6. Make it about your child.
If you have a child who attends school yourself, one of your first thoughts when you read a message from that school is probably “How will this affect my child?”.
When communicating with parents, not every message directly affects their child, but try to figure out how it might affect them—or even all students as a whole.
In a perfect world, each message would be different for each reader and related to the student, their story, how that communication affected them, and what they should be doing based on their specific circumstances. Of course this is not possible, but the more personalized the message, the more precise and effective this message will be.
7. Make sure they can read it.
Wondering how pharmacies can read a doctor’s scrawl?
This is closely related to the “personalized” property above. Whether that means form and platform (e.g. a letter or a tweet or a blog post or a phone call etc.), the reader’s native language, reading level or some other facet, the accessibility of a message is obviously crucial.
And that as soon as possible. The right information at the right time via the right platform. It’s difficult to be accessible, actionable, or personalized if it’s not done in a timely manner.
8. Embrace the contradictions
Good teaching requires an educator to be many things at once, and sometimes they can contradict each other: compassionate and factual, authentic and professional, consistent and kind. These are just a few of the many “soft skills” of teaching and perhaps the most powerful in creating an accessible “bedside manner” for teachers.
Sometimes these qualities seem to be contradictory. The point is that it is possible to be clinical and compassionate, authentic and “professional,” compassionate and empathetic, and kind. In fact, the most successful professionals are often the ones best able to do it.