Monday, October 17, 2022

Communication You Can Do

I started this post awhile back and I'll admit ... I feel like a post about communication should be an example of the focus - good communication. I hesitate to hold myself up as an example of "good communication" since I don't know that I do it well. I try, but always feel like I fall short. The following quote is a guiding force for me. 

In my PLN recently, newsletters and forms of communication have been talked about and ideas shared and questioned. The "who" - "why" -"how" - "how often" - "what tool" are big questions. I don't think there is one correct answer - rather, if you are the one creating the communication, you need to account for your audience and their preferences. Another key to good communication is the relationship you have with those you are communicating with. 

Let's break it down:

WHO ➙ are you communicating with? Staff? Students? Admin? Parents? Community?

WHY ➙ are you doing this? Is it to train/teach? Share info? Remind? Update? 

HOW ➙ are you sending out communication? Is it on social media? Is it via email? A newsletter? A piece of paper, possibly hung up in the teacher area? Or a combo of two or more of these?

HOW OFTEN ➙ is this on a regular basis? What is the regularity - daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc?

WHAT TOOL ➙ this goes right along with "How" ... are you able to leverage to paid tool or do you need to stick to free tools? Do you need a tool that provides data/analytics? Do you know how the tool works?

If you can identify answers to all of these above, I think you are in good shape. If you can't answer them all, I suggest taking some time to think through them and maybe even have a conversation with others about them.

Here's how it helped me this year. I added the middle school & high school to the buildings I am supporting this year, so now I'm supporting all of our buildings preK-12. I've been in the elementary buildings for about 5 years, and I added the new intermediate school last year. I used to teach at the middle school, but I've done very little interacting with teachers at the high school. I felt it was important to communicate with the teachers ... all of them ... so they knew I was someone who was happy to help. I had a relationship with most of the teachers in our district, but some I didn't. I wanted to build their ability to trouble-shoot and identify resources that could help them, since our tech team was smaller and I didn't want to increase their "downtime" when an issue arose. We have limited funds, if any, for this. I had to do it regular enough they would remember me & come to expect it, yet not so often they'd overlook it and I couldn't sustain it. I needed a super easy way to reach ALL of them.

I weighed my options of a newsletter, blog, website, doc, or email and I realized I was over complicating matters. We have a staff group email already set up and email was going to be the way ANYthing "got" to them whether it was a newsletter or Doc, etc, so I went with a newsletter as an email. I pushed myself to come up with a creative title and landed on "🗣 Hey, RLSD - Did you know ...". Being mindful of my time - and my teachers - I decided every other week and I picked Tuesdays to send it out. (And yes, I put serious thought into which day of the week to send it.)

Now here's the fun part - Google Docs has added the building block called "Email draft". 🧡 it! I can draft the email in a Google Doc, giving me the ability to work on it over time ... and several ahead if I'd like ... and not worry about the "accidental" sending. I keep the info short and sweet. I link to more detailed info, so it's not packed with text. And of course, I sprinkle in emoji's to appeal to the visual interest. At the bottom, I inserted hyperlinks to important resources for continual reminders of their existence. When I'm ready to start the next one, I just make a copy and replace the info. Voilá!

In time, I plan to include a link to the folder where I have these drafts housed so staff can look back. I have gotten positive feedback from the first few I've shared out. I am trying to include timely info about our programming or updates along with keyboard shortcuts or other quick tips.

Question for you ➙ do you send out regular communication? What works for you? Have you found what doesn't? Want to toss some ideas around? I'd be happy to ... just connect - all my socials are found in the top right of my blog. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Getting Help You Can Do ... I did!

Recently, I reached out to fellow Google Innovator - Chris Smith - for help with Data Studio. I had a project I honestly didn't think was possible. Chris showed me it absolutely was possible! He made it happen and recently shared our story on his blog - Smith Visualizations. 

He has graciously allowed me to share it here as well. I know I have a lot of learning to do with Data Studio, but I have friends who are also patient teachers, so I know I'll continue learning.

Chris Smith - Smith Visualizations

If you have an idea or project in mind - especially one that you aren't sure if it's possible - reach out ... to me, to a colleague, to a virtual friend, to someone ... and allow them to help.