Skip to main content

Communication

Communication Philosophy Statement

          Strong communication skills are at the heart of effective administrative practice. According to Weishaar, Borsa, and Weishaar (2007), "all administrators should be knowledgeable about and practice effective communication skills. The goal of good communication is for both parties to understand each other and to be understood" (p. 91). Effective communicators demonstrate competency in facilitating meetings, encouraging teamwork, disseminating information to stakeholder groups orally and in writing, and handling resistance. A superintendent that possesses strong communication skills in these areas can serve as an agent of change for their organization.

          To obtain positive outcomes for students, superintendents need to collaborate with students, parents, teachers and other school staff. Peterson (1995) believes that successful schools use teamwork to accomplish a variety of important tasks. Effective superintendents are able to facilitate teamwork by establishing "clear, shared goals; a sense of commitment; the ability to work together; mutual accountability; [and] access to needed resources and skills" (Peterson, 1995, n.p.). Teams play an important role in accomplishing tasks and decision-making within the schools. Superintendents need to encourage and facilitate teamwork for a wide-variety of activities from curricular reform to the implementation of new programs.

          Superintendents must also possess strong communication skills related to presenting and disseminating information to teachers, staff, parents, and other community members. In order to effectively communicate with the different stakeholder groups, superintendents need to consider the unique characteristics of their audience. For example, a school board presentation on changing the master schedule will need to emphasize different talking points (i.e., financial savings to the district) than a parent presentation on the same topic (i.e., increased number of elective classes available to students). Effective communicators know their audience and adapt their message accordingly. This is true not only for an oral presentation of information, but also for written communication. Superintendents need to be able to effectively disseminate written information to stakeholders (i.e., parent letters, newsletters, staff emails, website). By tailoring messages to the audience and using multiple methods of information distribution, superintendents are able to communicate important messages and stay connected with key stakeholders in their organization.

          Finally, superintendents need to know how to actively listen to others, acknowledge their concerns, communicate understanding, and handle resistance. Superintendents are frequently faced with situations that require the use of these thoughtful communication tactics. For example, at a contentious Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting, a parent might become upset because they believe a teacher is not following their son or daughter's IEP. Fisher, Ury, and Patton (1991) suggest using the following communication strategies to prevent or avoid further problems in communication: (1) listen actively and acknowledge what is being said, (2) speak to be understood, (3) speak about yourself, not about them, and (4) speak for a purpose. Superintendents who employ these communication strategies are able to effectively handle difficult situations with students, parents, staff, and school board members.

          In conclusion, strong communication skills are an essential component of effective administration. Superintendents need to be able to facilitate teamwork within their organization and disseminate information to different stakeholder groups using multiple modes of communication. In addition, due to the nature of administrative positions, superintendents need to be skilled in communication strategies related to acknowledging concerns and handling resistance.

References
Fisher, R., Ury, W., & Patton, B. (1991). Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in (2nd ed.). United States of America: Penguin Books.

Peterson, K. (1995). Building a committed team. Retrieved February 10, 2010, from North Central Regional Education Laboratory Website:
http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/educatrs/leadrshp/le200.htm

Weishaar, M.K., Borsa, J.C., & Weishaar, P.M. (2007). Inclusive educational administration: A case-study approach (2nd ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

C. Communication

  1. demonstrate knowledge of cultivating positive relationships between and with School Board members
  2. demonstrate an understanding of the importance of serving in a lead communicator role.

Artifacts

The following artifacts demonstrate my competency in the area of communication:

This artifact demonstrates my knowledge of cultivating positive relationships between and with School Board members (C1). In addition to observing my field experience supervisor effectively establish and maintain relations with his board, I reviewed the "Effective Board and Superintendent Collaboration" publication from Hanover Research. The publication provided a comprehensive summary of literature addressing the components of effective superintendent and school board relationships. The report also highlighted effective strategies for board governance, focusing on school boards' impact on student achievement, and techniques for overcoming political barriers.  My observations and review of this publication have helped me not only feel more confident in my ability to form positive relationships with my current and future board members. 

This artifact demonstrates my understanding of the importance of serving in a lead communicator role (C2).  During my superintendent field experience, I had the opportunity to take the lead on drafting communication to send out to staff and parents following a serious school threat situation. Through my work on this specific case, I learned the importance of this lead communicator role in this type of situation and what information is allowed to be shared and what is not from a legal perspective. 

 
Home | Contact Information | Professional Information | Core Licensure Competencies | Sub-Competencies for Special Education Director | Sub-Competencies for K-12 Principal | Sub-Competencies for Superintendent
e-Portfolio created with myeFolio