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How to build trust in the new era of K-12 education

From robocalls to mass emails, most school districts are experts at outbound communications — but with an average of 4,000 daily interactions for districts with 10,000 students, inbound inquiries can be a challenge. 

The tangled web of inbound communications — including phone calls, emails, social media messages, and more — can contribute to districts losing the narrative from their communities and turn whispers into full-blown crises.   

To protect itself from misinformation and negative perceptions, every school district must work to enhance one key feature of the school-stakeholder relationship: trust. 

“… People will forget what you said … what you did … but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

— Maya Angelou

We recently hosted a webinar with Chesapeake Public Schools (CPS) where Director of Communications Chris Vail shared how the district has created opportunities for meaningful conversations and developed trust capital with stakeholders.

Chesapeake Public Schools implemented Let’s Talk — the only streamlined communications and intelligence solution purpose-built for K-12 districts — in 2020. 

As COVID-19 changed communications strategies for districts worldwide, CPS kept a pulse on the opinions of their community and controlled the narrative at a time when many districts struggled to connect with stakeholders. 

“Even after the unique communications challenges of the pandemic had subsided, CPS was able to use Let’s Talk to bridge the gap between district leaders and stakeholders,” Vail said.  

A diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative called “Speak Up, CPS!” resulted in over 300 dialogue submissions from staff, students, and families who wanted to share thoughts, suggestions, and feedback about continuing efforts to eliminate racial inequality while supporting success for all students.

CPS has also used Let’s Talk to collect positive feedback through “Gratitude Grams” around Thanksgiving and “Principal Praise” to recognize administrators going above and beyond for their schools.  

With these open lines of communication in place, CPS stakeholders feel comfortable sharing feedback and confident their voices are heard — and having an influence on important changes at the school and district level. This trust capital also allows CPS to control its narrative and have strong connections with staff and students in place when potential crises arise. 

Let’s Talk has empowered staff to identify problems before they become crises, improve school culture and climate, and build trust — all while streamlining inboxes for a less hectic communications routine, both internally and externally.  

“Let’s Talk frees up district time, so staff can do the real work of educating students, and we need that time,” Vail said.  “Two-way communications is non-negotiable, but the trust-building conversations we’re able to have when we prioritize it have game-changing benefits.”     

Interested in learning more? Watch the full webinar recording, or request a free consultation to launch Let’s Talk in your district today. 

 

About the Author

Joe Douglass
Joe Douglass is a regional account director at K12 Insight. He brings a decade of experience in the education technology industry, working to help districts use technology to build into the 21st century.

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