5 Effective Communication Techniques for School Principals to build a successful educational environment for teachers and students.
School Principals have a significant duty in shaping a successfully enriching school environment for all teachers and students.
Here’s our insider’s advice on how school principals can communicate effectively with staff, faculty and students.
- School Newsletters:
A newsletter is a great tool of communication that engages parents, and even faculty and students, in the school’s latest and necessary updates. You can either choose to send the newsletter via a mass e-mail service or as a hardcopy on a weekly and/or monthly basis.
Several schools dedicate a weekly newsletter that sums up all the necessary information in one page, including the school’s activities, trips, events, and any significant achievements. It is a cost-effective method that saves the printing of many flyers and leaflets. Its regularity also creates a bond between parents and schools, and is an awaited tool for parents who want to know more about the school’s performances and activities.
Weekly newsletters gives a chance for monthly newsletters to hold more information. Monthly newsletters will serve parents with excess details, articles, news, polls and other exciting updates. Like the weekly newsletter, it may be distributed through mass e-mail to the parents’ database (and optionally students and teachers’ database). Or it can be sent by mail to parents’ homes. This will entirely depend on your budget and how internet-friendly the parents are.
- School Podcast:
As a school thriving with twenty-first-century teaching techniques, new technology should always be introduced. Principals can benefit from the School Podcast by dedicating thirty minutes each day to talk about important updates, interesting insights, engaging and knowledgeable information, etc. The more creative and interactive the content is, the more credible and trust worthy your school reputation will be. Not to mention, students, teachers and parents will be able to not only read words by listen to opinions, facts and necessary data.
- Face-to-Face Communication:
The best, most effective form of communication is face-to-face. The more serious or important the topic is, the better it is to communicate directly. Principals may invite parents over a ‘Coffee with the Principal’ event the start of every month, where they can address issues, concerns and updates. It also created a friendly sphere were parents can engage with a credible school official to build further trust. As well, ‘Parents Meetings’ are a great channel for parents to directly interact with their child’s teachers, and learn about his/her performance, concerns, achievements, etc. Other effective events could be small group discussions where the parents’ inputs may help improve and evolve the school’s performance.
- Parents Portal:
What’s better than dedicating a portal of online communication for parents? This tool is essentially effective, as parents will have the luxury of signing in to their personalized profile, check streaming news and updates, have a real-time chat with teachers or principals and monitor their children’s performance at school. Any needed information, updates, stats or the like can be found on this portal. iStudent EDS has similarly created iSite that is a specialized online portal displaying an array of public data to parents (and also to teachers and students) including applicants registration, generic school reports, statistics, tuition fees and more. For more information, check features about iSite here.
- Listen and Suspend:
Listening and suspending is an effective communication technique that many will need to use in challenging situations. Principals have the responsibility to listen to parents, teachers, and students’ concerns. However, many will find their emotions immersed in such challenging situations, and as a result, stimulate subjectivity within the problem-solving process. By setting the emotional factor aside, and logically listening to the issues being addressed, an act of suspension is being taken. Suspension will, hence, allow a fruitful discussion where problems may be solved accurately and efficiently.
The top 5 effective modelling techniques for parents to positively influence their children’s characters and behaviors.
Have you ever asked yourself who your role model is? Not surprisingly, your mind will probably contemplate your parents before skimming through other options.
Why is that so? Well, at the beginning of our lifespans, the first ever individuals we get to meet are our parents. Most of our childhoods echo with what we have observed our parents do, what they have said, how they have handled a situation, and the way they have exemplified most values to us.
Children form their values and behaviors based on what they see, hear and sense from others. They imitate, not only behaviors, but also words, speech tones, expressions, gestures, and even feelings. Everything is multidimensional when it comes to children. Through ongoing observation and imitation, their characters come to shape like pros.
Accordingly, parents have the responsibility to help build their children’s characters by modelling their own behaviors effectively.
- Keep calm and think positive
It’s bound to happen that your child infuses rebellious, sarcastic, defiant, or possibly aggressive behavior. Think positively and don’t take what your child says personally. Think about your child’s action and the type of consequence he/she deserves. Don’t incorporate violent or physical punishments as they’ll be brought up to think that it’s only normal. Your child will remember your reaction towards such stressful and challenging situations, and it is your chance to substitute his/her actions with your logically calm ones.
- Apply discipline consistently
You’ve handled your temper just right by deciding to stay calm. Your next step is to think about how you’re going to discipline your child. You will need to apply a consequence, which is by definition, “adding a negative consequence to prevent or decrease a certain behavior, which is problematic, or taking away something that the child holds dear”. For example, not allowing your child to watch TV, or use his/her computer, or do extra house chores. By time, your child will be able to differentiate appropriate behavior from inappropriate ones.
Balance this out with positive consequences by enforcing positive behavior. Clearly communicate to your child the kind of behaviors you want him/her to do less and more. If your child applies the behaviors as you’ve agreed together, it is important to reward him/her. Reward systems play a significant role in stimulating moral behaviors and character. But without consistency, your parenting would be meaningless. Make sure to reflect that you are serious about what you say and do. With that, you will reflect qualities of reliability, fairness and responsibility which will help build his/her character effectively.
- Use effective reasoning and logic
“Because I said so!” is the common phrase all children have heard their parents exclaim. It is not, however, advisable. Constantly enforcing authority on your child by dictating rules is negative karma. Your child needs to see you as a friend – someone they can talk and turn to for advice. How? Increase their understanding of certain behaviors, rituals, and ideologies by encouraging discussions. For example, if you want to teach your child to attend prayers regularly, have a sit down and talk about the importance of prayer, the benefit it leads on spiritual, physical and psychological levels. Encourage your child to hold discussions with others and come back to you about the results. This way, you are rearing your child to moderate critical thinking, exposing them to dialogue and open discussions, and building their knowledge and understanding.
- Be a role model for your kids
Kids are constantly watching you, and as mentioned above, they observe and imitate. Think about the qualities you’d want your kids to have. The way you speak and treat others, the way you talk about others, the way you dress and clean up, the way you think about yourself and how you express it, etc. The younger your child, the more attention they will have for you. According to several studies, it was found that children who act violently by hitting or shouting are doing so when aggression is staged at home. Make sure to model the behaviors and traits you wish to see in your child.
- Your time together is number 1
Keeping the best for last: make time for your kids. Dedicate a day in the week where you and your kids can spend time together – a family day. By appreciating family time and creating positive memories, your kids will not only have a sense of belonging, but will also appreciate important rituals, decrease misbehavior, and learn consistency. Kids who are not getting the appropriate care and time from their parents will most of the time act out to seek their attention. Though, don’t worry if you’re a working parent, it’s the little details that count. For example, wake up thirty minutes earlier in the morning to have a family breakfast together, take a walk together, have a movie night, or better yet, take turns at deciding what to do at a special weekend. As well, attend sport games, events and concerts with your kid to get to know him/her better outside of the home environment. This way you are showing that you care and are positively involved in his/her life.
Aristotle once said, “When we do good things, we become good people.”
As teachers we have the responsibility of not only bringing academic knowledge to our students, but also shaping them into the best versions of themselves.
Throughout the centuries, many educational movements have set on the mission of developing the best character education techniques, curricula and schools. After so many trials and errors, discussions and dialogues, and laws being passed and reformed, a good sum of data has emerged to produce reliable and strong character education programs.
In this light, we gathered the top 10 character building activities for teachers to apply in their classrooms.
THE 6 PILLARS OF CHARACTER:
Each of the following character traits shape a strong individual that can make positive change: Trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.
The best way to nurture these traits is to involve your students in activities where they will be able to reflect, discuss and apply them in real-life.
More traits are usually added in character building education programs, including: courage, diligence and integrity.
Here are the top 10 character building activities:
- The Character Value Jar activity:
How it works: Divide your students into groups. Announce to the groups that you will be observing their behaviors which indicate one or more of the 6 pillars of character. For example, if you spot an act of caring, a jelly bean (or another item of your choice) will be placed in the group’s jar. Emphasis that it’s about quality and not quantity by color coding each item and announcing that it’s not a race. When the jar is full, each group will be rewarded with a special treat, such as pizza for everyone or a class field trip. Make sure to look out for genuine behaviors and praise the students for their acts. Write down the color codes and have the jars in clear sight for everyone to see. Periodically comment on the greatest number of colors in the jar and the particular ones that might be scarce.
Lessons learnt: The students apply the 6 pillars of character in real-life and learn how to collaborate with each other to do so. Essentially, they learn trustworthiness by being rewarded for genuine and authentic behavior, and not by reaching the means to an end. – See more here.
- Art Reflections:
How it works: Write down the important aspects of trustworthiness in clear sight for everyone to see. These aspects are identified in what you say and do: honesty, reliability, loyalty and integrity. Have your students illustrate these aspects through any form of art (drawing, painting, craftwork, etc.) Have each of them present their own reflections about the art work they create for the chosen aspect. Finally, hang their art works around the school with a brief description of the art work. See more here.
Lessons learnt: Students learn to perceive trust within their own frame and express it openly. They will learn that each perception is different but falls under the common grounds of the aspect. Creativity and imagination is also induced in this activity.
- Character Clippings:
How it works: Have your students clip out pieces of newspapers and magazines that identify situations in which respect or disrespect are seen. Have them describe how the clippings reflect the issues of respect or disrespect, and discuss the traits that have resulted to them. Hang the students’ clippings in clear sight for everyone to see in class and involve them in a discussion about the consequences of disrespectful and respectful behaviors.
Lessons learnt: Students are exposed to various media types and data from which they could enrich their analytical and decision making skills, as well as their creativity.
- Giraffe Hero Game:
How it works: Ask the students who their heroes are. Write them on the board without commenting about them or labeling them with the students’ names. Afterwards, tell them at least two stories from the Giraffes on this website. Engage them in a class discussion asking about the risks they took, their positive actions and the good characters involved. Don’t forget to assert that the Giraffe heroes stick their necks out for others. Following that, return to the heroes on the board and spark a discussion around the risks that each has taken and the people they have helped.
Make sure to involve the class into a discussion to engage the shy ones and avoid embarrassments. Help the students realize that being rich, talented or good looking doesn’t have to make you a hero, but respecting one another and sticking your neck out for others makes you one.
With that, divide the class into groups and ask them to brainstorm and choose a hero represented in films, books, series, history or the community. Have the students present their heroes’ stories using narratives, art, drama or through a song. Lead the class into a discussion about each hero presented. Discuss the risks that have been taken and the caring that is shown to help others. In a new list, write down the heroes that have genuinely stuck out their necks (including the ones from the first list). Present the heroes in a ‘Hall of Heroes’ around the school. See more here.
Lessons learnt: Students collaborate with each other, learn from example and enhance their creative, presentation and research skills.
- Role Play:
How it works: You’ve committed to completing a project during the weekend that’s due Monday. Unexpectedly, your friends invite you to a trip in the weekend and you decide to go with your friends instead. Explain your decision to the team members of the project. Afterwards, have a class discussion around this behavior. What would each person do to achieve his/her goal? What is are the general guidelines that can be learnt from this behavior? What are the actions that motivate responsibility?
Lessons learnt: The students will reflect and analyze the situation upon themselves, collaborate in discussion and learn the significant traits that come with responsibility.
- The Fair Square:
How it works: Have the students collect clippings from newspapers, journals and magazines that refer to facts and opinions. Instruct them to pay attention to details, accuracy and credibility. Separate two columns, one for fact and the other for opinion. Have them identify what is fact and what is opinion in those clippings and hang them on the relevant column. Afterwards, assign each student to write an op-ed about any subject of their choosing, instructing them to be as fair as they could by referring to their previous exercise. Combine their op-eds into a class magazine, writing their names next to each of their articles, and then distribute a copy on each student.
Lessons learnt: The students will learn to identify the traits of fairness and take responsibility of being fair. They will see the outcome of their fairness in a hard copy hand book that will encourage them to apply this trait in everyday life.
- Caring for All:
How it works: Have your students watch the film Pay It Forward which is a great example of caring. Afterwards, assign each student to research the missing needs within the community. Have each student develop a plan to fill the gaps in whichever way they choose and apply it. For example, crocheting blankets and distributing them among the poor or creating books or magazine for retirement homes or kids. By the end of the school semester, have the students present their achievements and the influence they made on the community and themselves. See more here.
Lessons learnt: Here the students are also learning the concept of community involvement and citizenship, as they are engaging with individuals outside their school environment and learning about their lifestyles and needs.
- Our City is Our Country is Our Home:
How it works: Divide your students into groups and take them on a couple of field trips (preferably in different cities). Have your students engage in beautification and/or environmental projects. Ask each group to create a blog to illustrate their journey and discoveries and share them with the class, friends and families (this is optional). At the end of the school semester, each group presents their discoveries through interactive media (i.e. videos, pictures, etc.) and achievements to the class. See more here.
Lessons learnt: community involvement, learning more about their country, and discovering new places, people and ideas.
Finally, you may involve your students in the following activities to wrap up the 6 pillars of character:
- The 6 Pillar Bash:
How it works: Divide the students into six groups. Each group will be responsible for one of the 6 pillars of character (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, citizenship). Assign a movie/TV Drama/sitcom for each group. Have each group pay significant attention to the behavior of the main character to identify their assigned character pillar. Ask questions like: How much of the character pillar behavior did they find? How much of the opposing character trait did they find? Have a class discussion about these issues.
- Community Involvement:
How it works: Divide your students into two groups, and sign each group to a non-profit organization of their choice. Throughout the school semester, have the students partake in the organizations’ activities to fulfill personal and social responsibilities. At the last week of the semester, have each group conduct a presentation and an oral report about their accomplishments and the lessons they have learnt with regards to the 6 pillars of character.
Lessons learnt: for both the above mentioned activities, students solidify their memory and experience with regards to the 6 pillars of character. The hands-on experience will amplify the positive effects good character does, and encourage them to apply those traits in everyday life.