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December 12, 2013

Communication Expectations: Sample Alert!

Email: Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay.

Most schools let email slowly creep up and then get into a doom loop of oversending, non-responding, pesky reminding, urgent replying, between-every-class-smartphone-checking, and well, you get the picture.

We have long advocated for schools to clearly lay out parameters for communication, then train on them, and then follow up. We don’t care what your school’s communication norms are; we just care that you have them and that they are clear.

We recently caught a glimpse of this great sample of Communication Expectations from Kate C.B., a principal in Boston at MATCH Community Day. She agreed to let us share the entire document with you. . . Just follow this link to download the full sample.

Here are a few callouts we really appreciate:

  1. It hits ALL types of communication at the school, and it makes clear what to use when!
  2. It specifies when and how often teachers should check email. This means teachers don’t have to feel compelled to check every free second.
  3. The short and sweet email rules (turn to page 2) are easy to both adopt and adapt.

Kate spoke with me about how this baby got born.

How did this document come to be?

I drafted it and the administrative team gave feedback this summer before staff training.  There was a bit of healthy wrangling between us.  Some people were attached to email. The counter was that we have regular meetings, cell phones, proximity to each other, and FLEXIES to track and remember our thoughts – all of those tools should relieve the need for most emails.

When did you introduce it to teachers?

During staff training in August.  It’s built into the handbook, and we train using most sections.

How do you keep it alive?

We remind people when they are including unnecessary CC’s or trying to solve problems via email that would be faster solved at an upcoming meeting.  We also plan to revisit it at faculty meetings to prevent email creep!

Kate and team, thanks so much for sharing your work on norming school communication and taming the e-mail beast!

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