8 Ways To Improve How Schools Relate To Communities


8 Things Teachers Can Do To Modernize Their Bedside Manner

by TeachThought Staff

Ed note: Though the word ‘parents’ is used, the premise of the vendible is really well-nigh how schools communicate with communities at large. Whether the liaison is intended for a grandparent raising a child, a local organization that works with schools, or parents themselves, the point is communication.

Like doctors, teachers have a ‘way well-nigh them’–a well-informed manner.

If you’ve overly been to a doctor with poor bedside manners, you know how important those manners can be. Doctors that seem to bladder in the room whilom you, use language you barely understand (or say very little at all), rush their time with you, and leave you with a prescription on their way out are all-too-common.

This is not unconfined doctoring, but rather a doctor serving the medical field or the profession itself. A doctor that unchangingly wanted to be a doctor and thinks of themselves as a doctor–a doctor with a document on the wall that says that they are, in fact, a doctor.

A doctor is, at best, half of a relationship that requires a patient in need of care, and moreover medicine, research, insurance, and so on. In lieu of their legendary acclaim, a doctor is no increasingly important than a sick patient.

You can’t be a unconfined doctor if you don’t serve patients–and you can’t be a unconfined teacher if you don’t serve students and communities.

An Example Of The Babble Districts Give To Communities

It’s no secret that, in lieu of the tools misogynist to connect them, the loftiness between schools and families is widening.

Whether it’s ‘new math,’ a perceived lack of homework, ravages well-nigh standards and requisite towage practices, or any other number of reasons, schools long ago turned inward by developing new immuration with corporations, technology brands, universities, testing ‘brands,’ and plane one flipside while permitting the immuration between classrooms and communities to atrophy.

Case in point, see the letter below, written by Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky (several years ago). While well-intended, there is little here that would resonate with families and communities, expressly those that they so immensely need to connect with.


Just squint at the word choice.

commissioned…external….objective…auditors…central office…organizational structure…audit…plan…system…monitor…goals…prepare…measurable…work…align…expected…55,000 degree goals……position…progress…management…guide…governance…discrepancies…ameliorate!


And, meaty all together in the last paragraph on the way out the door? Community, learning, and families.

The tone is both sterile and a bit worried. Plane the font is difficult to read, and the overall aesthetic–from the form and tone to the wording and vestige cited, is surprisingly corporate.

We were audited but don’t worry–we are going to be transparent and work nonflexible to meet goals.

This can’t be our weightier thinking. Can you imagine a doctor talking to you well-nigh your pregnancy or high-blood pressure or illness of your child like this?

So how can we improve? A lot of it is worldwide sense–smiling, making eye-contact, listening instead of waiting for your turn to talk, extending meaningful invitations, using positive pre-suppositions when you talk well-nigh their child, and more.

Below are eight hair-trigger characteristics of functional and growth-oriented school-to-home liaison that we might consider. If you are just worldly-wise to do most of these most of the time, your bedside manner as a teacher can wilt one of your most important teaching tools.

8 Things Teachers Can Do To Modernize Their Bedside Manner: Improving How Schools Relate to Communities

1. Talk like a human being.

Schools should communicate to people like they’re people, not co-managers of the walking knowledge vessels that will sooner reflect the failures and success of the school in a future pie chart.

Education serves people, not the other way around. Our teaching and learning systems exist to, among other things, create literate citizens that can live well. In that way, the terms of liaison between schools and communities should be grounded in human compassion, language, and tone.

Just as plane a sunny doctor can struggle with their bedside manners, our teachers, administrators, and superintendents suffer from the education-equivalent as well.

If it’s ‘parent-centered,’ at worst any message should be information those parents need to know communicated in a way they understand.

If it doesn’t sound like a caring human stuff speaking on equal and non-patronizing terms to flipside caring human being, don’t send it.

2. Communicate with, not to.

When possible, schools should communicate to parents in ways that promote dialogue. This is unauthentic by…

1. What’s stuff discussed (topics that can goody from dialogue, not already-made decisions)

2. How it’s stuff discussed (debate, conversation, collaborative, workbench vs crowded room with one microphone, over chili and bad punch, etc.)

3. Where it’s stuff discussed (in-person, the phone, parent-teacher conferences, etc.)

4. Why it’s stuff discussed (to problem-solve, to brainstorm, to clarify, to iterate, to revisit, etc.)

If it doesn’t sound like a caring human stuff speaking on equal and non-patronizing terms to flipside caring human stuff in a way that benefits from or allows for a useful response, don’t send it.

3. Have a point and make it actionable.

Not all liaison will fit this characteristic, but in large part, liaison with parents should have a purpose that leads to something outside of the heads it’s stuff communicated between.

Put flipside way, that message should transpiration something, and since communities are why schools exist, it makes sense that families (even if they are non-responsive and don’t show up and never write when and don’t understand, etc.) should often act in response to any ‘communication.’ Turning when to merchantry language, if every message has a specific call-to-action, then it follows that every message would lead to something changing.

Have a upkeep issue to communicate to local businesses? Ask them to provide a tip or resource via Google Forms.

Have a new program to introduce? Ask parents to shepherd a meeting–or plane a simple webinar–on what the program is and what you hope it accomplishes for them.

Audited by the state and want to get out superiority of any ravages well-nigh the results? Create a visual with the data and your response, then start a conversation virtually the plan that can lead to community-wide support in the forms of donations, committee formations, voting, work with students through project-based learning, and more.

If it doesn’t sound like a caring human stuff speaking on equal and non-patronizing terms to flipside caring human stuff in a way that benefits from or allows for a useful response or whoopee on the part of the reader, don’t send it.

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 they can help.

Consistency is the difference between forming a message or forming a relationship.

5. Try to tie the purpose of the message to the purpose of the school.

Don’t send a newsletter home well-nigh paving the school parking lot or asking for door prizes for a school waltz if they haven’t heard the first word well-nigh the learning and well-being of their children all year.

6. Make it well-nigh their child.

If you have a child of your own that attends a school, whenever you read a message from that school of one of your first thoughts is likely, “How does this stupefy my child?’

When communicating with parents, not every message will directly stupefy their child, but try to map out how it could stupefy them–or plane all students at large.

In a perfect world, every message would be variegated for every reader, referencing the student, their history, how this liaison affects them, and what they should do based on their specific circumstances. Of course, that’s not possible, but the increasingly personalized the message is, the increasingly precise and constructive that message is.

7. Make sure they can read it.

Every wonder how pharmacies can read the scribble of a doctor?

This is closely related to the ‘personalized’ foible above. Whether that ways form and platform (e.g., a letter versus a tweet versus a blog post versus a phone call, etc.), the native language of the reader, reading level, or some other facet, the serviceability of a message is obviously critical.

And as much as possible, it should be timely. The right information at the right time through the right platform. It’s difficult to be accessible, actionable, or personalized if it’s not timely.

8. Embrace the contradictions 

Good teaching requires an educator to be many things at once, and sometimes they can contradict one another: Understanding and clinical, pure and professional, resulting and kind. These are a few of the many ‘soft skills’ of teaching, and may be the most impactful in regards to creating an outgoing ‘bedside manner’ for teachers.

Sometimes these characteristics may seem at odds. The point is, it’s possible to be a clinical and compassionate, pure and ‘professional,’ understanding and empathetic and kind. In fact, the most successful professionals are often the ones weightier worldly-wise to pull this off.