I was sifting through some e-mails earlier this Summer and an unexpected message popped up from a parent. The parent was going through their child's yearbook and had stumbled upon my annual yearbook message to students.
After reading my message to students (below), the parent wanted to share a cool connection she had made. Evidently, she went to high school with one of the authors I mentioned in my message to students. But what happened next was even more unexpected.
To make a long story short, the parent reached out to the author, Dusti Bowling, who was nice enough to record a video greeting and super-special booktalk for our students. I'll include her custom video at the very bottom of this post, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
This entire chain of events started with a simple yearbook message, but it revealed something simple that I need to keep reminding myself. Every single school communication is an opportunity to connect on a deeper level.
However, when we treat communication as mundane (imagine the obligatory updates you might be sending via newsletter or e-mail) we miss out on the most important part of communication. Connection.
In the case of our school yearbooks, I wanted to connect with our school community in a manner that modeled how readers share the books they're reading. (Our school is invested in a culture of literacy where talking about the books we love is as natural as talking about our favorite foods or movies.)
It may sound surprising, but I didn't expect too many parents to read my yearbook message to students. And I certainly didn't expect the author of one of the books I recommended to eventually reach out. In retrospect, the fact that I shared my passion for literacy in that short message made it possible for some readers to connect and invest in that foundational work. Go figure!
It sounds so simple, but communication is the foundation of vision and culture. You can't build a foundation of literacy if you don't talk about the books you're reading. You can't build trust if your communication isn't transparent, two-way, and respectful. And you can't champion innovative learning if the only communication you share is delivered via carrier pigeon.
Every communication is an opportunity to strengthen and extend the foundation. When we lose sight of this (like I do from time to time) we miss opportunities to connect on a deeper level. And eventually, this translates to missed opportunities for students.
There's a quote I love (mostly because I need to keep reminding myself) and I want to share it with you:
"In the absence of information, people make up their own." ~Author Unknown
How is your communication connecting with the people you serve? What routine communications might be ready for innovation or repurposing? How are you communicating your heart for the vision and values you hold dear? Don't leave people guessing.
PS Thanks for reading! Here's that special booktalk video from the author of, "Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus."