My friend and colleague, Principal Matt Hillman, wrote a very good post on LeaderTalk yesterday called "Getting the Word Out." In it he stressed the importance of schools taking their messages to the public beyond "web sites, fliers, or parent nights" and...
personally spreading the news about what we do for kids and our families to folks who might not typically cross paths with school personnel.
Given that in our community fewer than 25% of our households contain public school children, finding effective ways to inform all voters, taxpayers and community opinion leaders about our schools is increasingly important.
Matt's posting is weirdly coincidental since next Monday I will be giving a 20 minute talk* to my Kiwanis Club. Titled "Do You Know More Than a Fifth Grade Teacher?" it has these three objectives:
- To raise the level of respect for teachers in our community (not that they really need the help)
- To raise the awareness of the importance of technology in classroom (which really does need help)
- To demonstrate the district has spent technology referendum dollars wisely
A letter will go out next week to other service clubs in town, in which I'll offer to give this talk at their meetings as well.
I've done lots of talks for service clubs. The members of these organizations have a high tolerance for bland food. They often meet at ungodly hours. They sing, pray, pledge, and conduct silly rituals.
But I also I find in every case that these club members are interested, involved, supportive and ask good questions. They care about kids and the community. They work hard and are generous with both their time and money. And they make you feel welcome and appreciated.
My simple suggestions for an effective community talk include:
- Keep it short - 20 minutes max
- Show pictures of happy kids (HPLUKs)
- Wow'm a little
- Stress the positive
- Make it about kids
- Make a point
Groups like Rotary, Kiwanis, and the Lions Club are just a few examples of civic organizations where individuals committed to our communities gather and talk. These are great organizations to engage. What are some public relations efforts you have used to spread the good word in your community?Well. library and tech folks, how do you engage the larger community? It's vitally important.
My slides for Monday's talk are available on Slideshare. If you are confused by the first few, they are simply there to illustrate this little introductory story:
A pundit once speculated that should a 19th century physician be transported to the present day, he or she would not recognize a modern operating room. A 19th century banker would not be able to function in today's bank. In fact, the writer observed, the only professionals whose working environment would have changed so little that they could begin working immediately would be public classroom teachers.
And the rest of the talk sets out to disprove it.
Have a great weekend.
The talk went fine. Thanks!
Club member Doug Johnson, Director of Media and Technology for the Mankato Area Public schools updates the club on new technologies used in the classroom at the July 29, 2008 meeting.