Although it was only about 12-14 years ago that I was taking coursework to prepare to be a principal, the methods of communication were really limited compared to now, so it was more simple to talk about which medium was appropriate for which type of communication.
1) Most of the information – mailings, newletters, etc. It was “innovative” then for teachers and administrators to create “Good News” only newletters and press releases, on paper of course.
2) phone calls…. lots and lots of phone calls.
3) emails, only occasionally, for in-house communication or with a couple tech-savvy parents who communicated that way.
I definitely was NOT prepared back then for the different levels of communication and the much more complex decision-making that needs to take place around what type of communication to use for each task. School leaders now still need to disseminate crucial information and highlight the positives of the school. We can do that through websites, blogs, wiki’s, facebook pages, twitter accounts, instagram, etc.
Ultimately, though, technology can never replace the relationships we are building, but it certainly enhances them when the right tool is used for the right reason and for the right audience. When you build a relationship with individuals, a school leader begins to understand the best ways to communicate different types of information to parents and the community.
On a more individual level, if there were a concern about a student, for me, that still comes back to the tried/true method of face-to-face meetings and phone calls. However, I certainly had one parent in particular whom I can remember only wanted me to email him, because his work took him out of the country so often. I always honored the requests of my audiences whenever possible.
The bottom line is that with all the tools at our disposal for communicating with individuals and communities, school leaders need to pick the methods that work for their individuals and communities. Sometimes this is a trial-and-error process. However, matching the mode of communication with the audience and task is essential for a school leader.