In your summary, discuss how the week’s readings support the role of the principal in family and community involvement. The weekly summary should include at least one reference from the week’s readings and should be no longer than 250 words.
0–No summary or summary is not on topic.
0.5–On topic with no reference or connection to the week’s readings.
1–On topic and includes a reference to the week’s readings.
Chapter 6 The Communication Process
After completing this chapter you should be able to …
■ Identify the key components of the communication process.
■ Outline the role of communication in changing attitudes and opinions.
■ Distinguish the roles media play in school communication.
■ Outline the issues that influence the ability of communication to persuade.
In building a school–community relations program, close attention should be given to the communication process. Although some kind of communication takes place in all walks of life, effective communication doesn’t just happen. It is the result of carefully planning the kind of information that needs to be disseminated, the particular audience that is to be reached, and the choice of tools that are best fitted for the job. The job itself is that of bringing about understanding, gaining acceptance, and stimulating supportive action for ideas or proposals.
Communication is not just telling or hearing something. In the true sense of the word, it means communion or a mutual sharing of ideas and feelings. It comes from the Latin communicare, meaning “to share” or “to make common.” In this setting then, communication is the giving and receiving or sharing of anything. This is accomplished through the use of language, which may be spoken or written, or the use of symbolism, or variations of sound or light, or some other such mode. Usually, the word communication brings to mind the sending or receiving of a letter, a telephone call linking one speaker with one listener, a conversation between friends, the publication of a newspaper, a radio or television broadcast, or an e-mail message.
In any event, communication is a cooperative enterprise requiring the mutual interchange of ideas and information, and out of which understanding develops and action is taken. Communication can also be regarded as a tool for drawing people and their viewpoints closer together, and thus facilitating the quality of the relationship they enjoy. As the sociologist Charles Horton Cooley pointed out more than a century ago, communication is actually “the mechanism through which human relations exist and develop.”1
From this point of view, the nature and importance of the communication process in a school–community relations program will be discussed with reference to the elements of communication, communication and persuasion, mass media techniques, and words.
ELEMENTS OF COMMUNICATION
In communication theory, five elements are identified in the transmission of a message. Figure 6.1 identifies them as the source or sender of information, the message form used by the source (encoder), a channel that carries the message, the decoder who perceives and interprets the common language, and a receiver who reacts to the message after conceptualizing it. This simple pattern of message transmission has just as much application to a complex city newspaper that puts messages into print and sends them to thousands of readers as it does to the encoding, sending, and decoding of a letter from one friend to another.
Source of Information
The source of information may be a person or a group of persons who possess certain ideas, feelings, and needs, as well as a reason for wanting to engage in communication. In selecting the source as the starting place for a message, it should be remembered that the source has been influenced by messages received earlier and by perceptions made in the past. In reality, the source is the human brain—a highly developed internal communication mechanism that is able to combine concepts stored there, and so to create ideas, establish purposes for communication, and decide how a message will be transmitted.
The Message Encoder
The information furnished by the source must be put in message form before being sent to a particular person or audience. Here a number of factors come into play. They are important determinants of message effectiveness and may be summed up briefly as follows:
• Although language is the principal tool in coding a message, there are times when a body movement, a facial gesture, an unusual noise, or some other sign will convey just as much meaning to the receiver of the message.
• Senders must understand their messages themselves before they can make them understood by their receivers.
• To impart information or feelings, the sender and receiver should know not only what the words, phrases, or other signs mean, but both should be able to interpret these elements in the same way.
• Unless a message can be decoded easily and accurately, there is a danger that the receiver’s attention will shift to something else that appears to offer an equal or greater reward for less effort.
• A message is received more readily when it contains one or more cues or suggestions that appeal to the receiver’s needs and interests. Such cues or suggestions become an inducement for decoding and accepting the message.
FIGURE 6.1 A Common Communication Model with Examples of Components.
Source: Edward H. Moore
• Once the source determines what ideas the message should convey, he or she can decide how to express them in a form that will appeal to the receiver.
• The use of symbols in a message makes it possible to compress and simplify complex information. When such symbols as the Red Cross, a school building, or the American flag are used, they stand for concepts that people readily understand and grasp.
• Most encoded messages contain a number of parallel messages. When a message is delivered orally, the words, those that are emphasized, the rate of delivery, the pauses, and the facial expressions are all interpreted along with the content of the message.
From this list it is evident that effective encoding calls for a message form that is appropriate for the particular situation, place, and audience.
When a message has been coded, the sender must select a channel that will carry it to the person or audience for whom it is intended. The channel may be a word-of-mouth conversation; an oral presentation on radio or television; a written document in the form of a letter or a memorandum; printed matter such as a newspaper, book, magazine, or brochure; or a combination of words and pictures through the medium of motion pictures, videos, e-mail messages, and the like. These are merely some of the more commonly used channels in message transmission.
At the same time, it is essential that the sender know which of these channels are available in the community, how extensively they are used, and how effective each is in reaching various audiences. One channel, for example, might be better than another for message delivery to a foreign-language-speaking segment of the population, whereas a different one could be used with good results for keeping professional persons in the community informed about critical school problems.
Channels that are selected for message transmission should be free from distracting elements that discourage audience attention, such as printed pages of a leaflet or brochure in which the type is smudgy and hard to read, or poorly reproduced photographs and line drawings in a photojournalism piece, or static noises that punctuate a radio broadcast. Such distractions terminate communication possibilities almost at once.
The Message Decoder
Assuming that the transmission channel is working satisfactorily, the question then arises of whether the decoder is able to decode the message accurately. This means interpreting the sign or the way in which the message is coded. If the message is coded in written English, will the decoder understand the vocabulary? Does his or her background of knowledge and experience enable him or her to comprehend quickly and correctly a reference, for example, to a system of open education, a nongraded curricular arrangement, or a minicourse? Unless the reference kindles the same meaning in the mind of the reader as in the mind of the writer, the attempt at communication may be only partly successful, and it may even be totally unsuccessful.
The matter of interpreting the words of a message is further complicated by the fact that the same words have different meanings for different people. Generally, words have two kinds of meaning: (1) a denotative or dictionary meaning that has more-or-less universal acceptance and (2) a connotative meaning—a meaning that is read into the words because of the reader’s background and experience. For example, the word school denotes a place where children go for an education under the direction of qualified teachers. To some individuals this may connote a place where many happy hours were spent, whereas to others it may connote just the opposite, depending on the individual’s experiences while attending school.
Sometimes the people who are the decoders will not take the time to review the message carefully unless they feel that it relates to things of interest to them or that their efforts will be rewarded in some way. In view of the many messages that confront one daily, the problem of getting an individual to select and decode those about the local school system is difficult. Suppose, for example, that the letter carrier just delivered a brochure about school taxes for the coming year and also a popular magazine that the resident thoroughly enjoys reading. If the size, title, color, format, and so on of the brochure lack appeal, it will probably be set aside in favor of the magazine. However, if the brochure creates curiosity regarding the tax situation, reinforces the individual’s concern over mounting educational costs, or suggests that the recipient stands to gain something, the individual may be motivated sufficiently to examine this particular message.
Furthermore, the decoder is more apt to decode a message that calls for the least amount of effort. A six-page brochure on school guidance services that is made up largely of clear photos with clever captions will attract and hold the receiver’s attention more than one on the same subject that consists of six pages of small print. This example illustrates what is referred to in communication theory as Schramm’s “fraction of selection” theory. The expectation of reward is divided by the effort required. Thus, a person will select a particular communication, in all probability, if it promises more reward or if it seems to require less effort to decode than competing messages.
When the message reaches the receiver, who is usually the decoder, it is expressed in some kind of shorthand—letters, drawings, photographs, tables, sounds, and so on. If this shorthand is something that the receiver has learned in the past, he or she will respond accordingly. His or her responses will indicate the meaning that the shorthand has for him or her. Although these responses are the products of experience, nevertheless they are modified at times by the receiver’s physical and mental state. For example, a picture of an attractive tray of desserts will be more appealing to the hungry receiver than to one who has just finished dinner.
Besides translating the shorthand into meaning, receivers’ responses will determine what they will do about the message. The action they take may be based on things they have learned in the past. The word war in a message, for example, may call forth strong feelings of antagonism against the idea of destroying human life. This type of response may cause people to start encoding a message in reply—one that expresses their reactions. Thus, each person in the communication process may be both an encoder and a decoder. On the other hand, the decoder may regard the message as being unimportant or may decide not to reply to it, with the result that the process stops there. However, most individuals are constantly decoding signs, reading meaning into them, and then sending back their reactions. Graphically, the flow is shown in Figure 6.1.
The return message from the decoder or receiver is known as feedback. It tells the sender or source how his or her message is being interpreted. This occurs almost at once in a face-to-face conversation, where verbal response along with body gestures such as a nod of the head, a facial expression, or eye focusing shows the receiver’s responses. In the light of these responses, the encoder or sender may modify future messages.
The feedback situation is somewhat different when messages are carried through mass communication media such as newspapers, television programs, books, or recordings. It is true that the recipients of these messages are individuals, but these individuals supply little or no direct feedback, and only occasionally will they express reactions through telephone calls, letters, or e-mails to the sender. The type of feedback to the sender is usually in the form of a refusal to do something—subscribers discontinue taking the newspaper, listeners and viewers turn to another station, and consumers stop buying the product. This is an impelling reason why so much consumer research is conducted by business organizations. It is the only way available for finding out what programs are watched on television, or what homemakers like about a particular product, or how readers are reacting to given advertisements.
COMMUNICATION AND PERSUASION
A primary purpose behind the communication process is trying to change attitudes and opinions through the use of persuasive messages. In school–community relations this purpose is frequently referred to as that of trying to bring about informed public consent. The procedures for achieving this involve the preparation and presentation by the school of messages containing information, ideas, or proposals that the public who receives them considers and then decides what action, if any, it is going to take. In a two-way communication flow, the process is reversed, with school personnel analyzing and evaluating suggestions and ideas received from people in the community and subsequently deciding what course of action to follow.
The problem of trying to get individuals to learn new ideas and adopt new behaviors through the use of persuasive messages has been the subject of much research. This research has centered on the stages people go through; the characteristics of the sender, the message, and the receiver; and the results. Some of the findings appear to have practical application in a school–community relations program.
How People Accept or Reject a New Idea, Product, or Innovation
Many studies have been conducted on the adoption or rejection of a new idea, product, or innovation. Known as the diffusion process, this communication theory generated much interest in the 1930–1960 period. Many of the studies are relevant today. The diffusion generalizations in the 1950s have since generated some 4,000 empirical studies.
In the 1950s a group of rural sociologists developed a standard diffusion model with five stages: awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adoption.
Awareness—This stage introduces a person to a new idea, practice, or product. Little or nothing is known about it other than general information.
Interest—This is sometimes known as the information stage, in which an individual becomes interested in learning more about the idea, practice, or product. He or she will actively seek additional information.
Evaluation—An individual weighs the merits of the idea, product, or practice and attempts to determine if it is good for him or her.
Trial—The person tries the product, idea, or practice a little.
Adoption—The individual decides that the idea, product, or practice is good enough for full-scale use.
According to Lionberger and to Rogers,2 these stages or phases of the diffusion process do not follow a linear sequence. They are not discrete, nor are they experienced by all people.
Mass media play the leading role in the awareness and interest stages, and friends and neighbors are most influential in the evaluation, trial, and adoption stages. In the first two stages, information flows one way, but in the last three stages two-way communication is dominant where attitude change starts taking place.
Message development and audience analysis also play key roles. Basso, Hines, and FitzGerald writing in PR Writer’s Toolbox: Blueprints for Success identify adoption, continuance, discontinuance, and deterrence as the message types linked to direction of persuasive changes.3 Table 6.1 lists the factors and examples for each.
Everett Rogers renamed the stages: (1) knowledge—the individual learns of the innovation and gains information about it; (2) persuasion—the individual forms a positive or negative attitude toward the innovation; (3) decision—the person makes a choice to adopt or reject the innovation; (4) implementation—the person puts the innovation into use; (5) confirmation—the person seeks reinforcement for the decision already made.4
In a similar marketing model, Topor5 emphasizes that people are influenced more in decision making by face-to-face contact than by mass media. Figure 6.2 shows Topor’s four stages of an audience member’s states of mind when an institution is being marketed.
Awareness—Bringing an institution to the attention of an audience
Comprehension—Developing an understanding of the appeal of an institution
Conviction—Matching individual interests to institution offerings
Commitment—Assisting in the decision process
Like Lionberger’s diffusion process, Topor’s marketing model shows that information flows primarily one way in the first two stages, but in the last two stages two-way communication is dominant, whereby a commitment is made. It would appear, then, from both of these models that for the greatest persuasion to take place, a two-way person-to-person communication process must exist.
TABLE 6.1 Persuasive Efforts Begin with Clear Audience Analysis
You attempt to get the reader to adopt an idea or plan.
The PTA urges every resident to get out and vote YES to support two new schools in the district.
You want the audience to continue a behavior.
We urge every resident to continue their support and vote YES next Tuesday to support school expansion.
You want the audience to stop doing something.
Residents need to reverse the failed bond referenda and support a plan to infuse the district with much needed funds.
You want to convince the audience not to do something.
Residents have voted against the last two bond referenda to infuse needed funds into our school system. Next Tuesday, let’s reverse that trend and vote YES for school expansion.
Source: Adapted from PR Writer’s Toolbox: Blueprints for Success (Kendall Hunt Publishing Co.), copyright 2012 by Joseph Basso, Randy Hines, and Suzanne FitzGerald. Reprinted with permission.
FIGURE 6.2 A Marketing Model of Audience Member States of Mind.
Source: Robert S. Topor, Institutional Image: How to Define, Improve, Market It (Washington, DC: Council for Advancement and Support of Education, 1986), p. 55. Reproduced with permission.
In other words, the mass media (in this case, radio, TV, brochures, and printed material) serve to inform the public and to make people aware of a situation or an idea. When it comes to accepting or rejecting a new idea, people are apt to confer with a neighbor or friend whose judgment they respect. A number of studies have shown that people are influenced more in decision making by face-to-face contacts than by the impact of the media.
The classic 1950s diffusion model also included the idea that individual differences cause people to adopt innovations at different times utilizing varying amounts and sources of information. Five categories of adopters were conceptualized: innovators (first 2.5 percent), early adopters (next 13.5 percent), early majority (34 percent), late majority (34 percent), and late adopters or laggards (last 16 percent).6 (Chapter 14 gives additional material on the diffusion of information.)
Too often school districts flood the mass media with news releases and public service announcements, thinking such announcements will be enough to persuade citizens to accept a new idea or change in the schools. However, school district personnel should be aware that, if attitude change is to take place, they must develop some additional communication approaches to reach citizens on a person-to-person basis. They need to communicate with those people to whom citizens turn to get opinions during the last three stages of the diffusion process. One answer is a key communicator program, which is explained in Chapter 8.
Confidence in the Source
The persuasiveness of a communication is greater when certain things are known about the communicator. This is usually the case if the sender has gained a reputation for being honest and direct, is a highly respected person among associates, is thought to be well informed on the subject of the message, or shares a common background or set of experiences with his or her listeners.
A message is also likely to receive favorable attention when it is sent by persons in positions of leadership. Such a person could be the president of a school board, a superintendent of schools, or a civic-minded industrialist.
Some additional research findings are interesting with regard to source credibility. For example, a physically attractive source is generally more persuasive than an unattractive source, regardless of the gender of the receiver. Furthermore, if receivers see the sender to be similar to themselves in experiences, opinions, and background, they are more apt to accept the message. Some researchers define source credibility as expertness and claim that it is related more to attitude change than to the source’s attractiveness or similarity to the intended audience. However, in order for the expertise to be persuasive, Oskamp7 claims that special conditions are needed: (1) The area of expertise must be related to the issue or topic being presented, and (2) before the message is to be delivered the expertise must be made known to the audience. In general, researchers suggest that people will often accept or reject message conclusions based on source credibility without paying much attention to the supporting arguments.
In certain unusual situations, researchers have discovered an interesting relation between the source credibility and the passage of time. They found that receivers remember the context of a message from a noncredible communicator, think about it, and sometimes later accept the message after they have forgotten where it came from. This phenomenon is known as the sleeper effect. In brief, then, the tie between the source of a message and the content of a message is not the same in perception as in memory.
Support of Personal Views
Much research has been done on attitude change when the receiver of a communication is exposed to a message that agrees or disagrees with his or her point of view. Among the more important findings are these:
• People tend to read, watch, and listen to communications that are in agreement with their beliefs and interests.
• When people receive a message containing a point of view or information that casts doubt on their position, they either disregard or distort the message in order to confirm their existing attitudes and opinions. Actually, they hear or read only what they expect to hear or read, not what the message says.
• In some instances, exposure to such material leads to receivers restructuring the message so that the content agrees with their predisposition or at least so that it is made tolerable. In other words, receivers end up perceiving the message as though it reflected their own point of view.
• People remember the content of a message that supports what they believe much better than they remember material that is antagonistic to their convictions.
• Information and ideas about a subject receive most attention from those who are most interested in it or those whose minds are most firmly made up beforehand. Those who have no interest in the subject pay little or no attention to communications regarding it.
• When a discussion of an issue reaches the stage of controversy, those taking part in it are apt to ignore additional information unless it happens to agree with their attitudes and convictions. At this point it is usually too late for further information to influence them; in fact, too much information may produce a negative reaction.
• In an area where few opinions have been formed, the chances are rather good that a well-devised communication will accomplish its goal. In an area, however, where opinions are fixed and strongly defended, the chance of achieving attitude change is only slight. Where this is the case, it is better to take existing attitudes and try to redirect them slightly.
Benefit to Receiver
Messages can be persuasive when they deal with the receiver’s needs or appeal to his or her self-interest. It is only natural to look more sharply at the content of a communication from which one can gain something. A communication could, for example, request that one serve as chairperson of a committee that is highly regarded by the members of one’s group, or it could contain an offer to finance a research project in which one has a strong interest. In much the same way, citizens respond favorably to school communications that explain the services children receive from the tax dollar. Although indirect, this type of benefit makes citizens feel that a worthwhile return is being received from their investment.
Sometimes a message is persuasive because it is received when the individual has a predisposition to change. Suppose, for example, that the receiver has been active in an independent citizen movement to upgrade instruction in the schools and feels that this activity is no longer satisfying. As a result, he or she may have become predisposed to change. Then a message is received describing the value of citizen involvement in the formulation of educational policies under the auspices of the board of education. The receiver’s new predisposition to change may cause a positive reaction to similar communications rejected on prior occasions.
Research studies have turned up a series of findings about group influence on the receiver’s acceptance or rejection of a message. To begin with, a message is more likely to stimulate a favorable response if the content of it relates clearly to group values and beliefs. Group values and beliefs are those established by the family, friends, coworkers, and organizations to which the receiver belongs or would like to belong. On the other hand, if the content is in disagreement with group norms, it will probably be rejected unless it undergoes substantial change. It is difficult to persuade the receiver to believe in something or to do anything that runs counter to the value system of his or her groups.
This raises the question of what individuals receive in return for conforming to the standards and beliefs of a group. Research on this question shows that they get two returns for conformity: First, they identify more closely with the group and enhance their acceptance as members, and second, they receive some ready-made interpretations of experience and consequently find it easier to meet the daily pressures of life and its accompanying problems.
It has also been found that receivers cannot be persuaded easily if their acceptance of a message will cause them to lose face among their peers. In speculating on this possibility, the sender should scrutinize all available alternatives before transmitting the message and should word it accordingly.
There are other ways in which the individual is influenced by people’s judgment. For example, an individual who will go along with the position of a speaker when the position appears acceptable to the majority of the audience may be less likely to agree with it when he or she senses a discrepancy between the speaker’s position and that of the audience. It has also been observed that an individual responds to appeals in a crowd that he or she would scarcely consider, let alone accept, apart from the group. Thus, it is sometimes possible to convince an individual to accept a point of view in private, even though later he or she will deny it when reacting with a crowd.
Research has also found that opinions individuals have made known to others are more difficult to change than those they hold privately. Also, group discussion and decision making (audience participation) help to overcome resistance to persuasion.
Presentation of Issues
In presenting issues to an audience, the question has come up of which method is more effective to use: a one-sided or a two-sided message—in other words, to present only your position, or to present both yours and the opposite one. Research results indicate that the answer varies with the conditions and circumstances under which the presentation takes place. The following are some of the important findings and should be regarded as guidelines in school–community relations:
• Presenting only one side of an argument often causes the audience to feel that it is being talked down to by the speaker. Those who are well informed on the subject and those who think they are resent this type of treatment.
• If it appears that an audience is unfriendly and skeptical about the integrity of the speaker, as well as rather well informed on some aspects of the subject, the presentation should be carefully balanced and highly objective.
• When a group is initially exposed to a two-sided communication, such as the pros and cons of constructing a new school building, it is more likely to resist propaganda to which it is subsequently exposed.
• Persons of low intellect and limited schooling can be influenced by a one-sided message if the content is limited to arguments favoring the communicator’s position.
• Persons with high intellectual ability and a good educational background tend to be more influenced by a two-sided message.
• When audience members are well informed on an issue, more persuasion is accomplished by reviewing both sides of the matter, but when they are poorly informed, then a one-sided presentation is more effective.
• A one-sided message is more apt to influence persons who were initially inclined to support the position being advocated, but a two-sided communication is more influential for those who were opposed at the beginning.
• More attitude change occurs when the desirable features of a proposed change are presented first and the undesirable second.
• When different communicators present two sides of an issue successively, the side presented first has no real advantage. However, when a single communicator presents both sides, the material presented first seems to have more impact on the audience than that presented subsequently.
• In controversial situations, messages that offer some reasonable conclusion to an issue are more likely to be persuasive than if the audience is left to make up its own mind.
• When conflicting information is important to the audience, failure to divulge such information may be regarded as an indication that the communicator has not looked at the other side carefully enough.
• Research has yielded conflicting findings on the matter of whether the opening or closing of a message should contain the more important content. When the weaker points are presented first, an interested audience looks forward to what is coming later, whereas an apathetic audience is more likely to be aroused when the important points are presented at the beginning.
• Research findings lack agreement on the effectiveness of emotional versus rational appeals. Sometimes messages containing one type of appeal are more persuasive than the other type. Appeal effectiveness of either emotional or rational messages seems to depend on the issue under consideration as well as on the composition of the audience.
Are people persuaded to change their attitudes and behaviors because a message arouses fear and insecurity? Much of the research in fear-arousal messages confirms that as these messages increase from low to moderate levels, attitude and behavior changes increase. However, as the messages progress from a moderate to a stronger level, persuasion is less apt to take place. Apparently, strong fear evokes ego defenses that block attitude change.
In some studies it has been found that when an audience is exposed to conflicting messages on the same issue, the use of a strong threat appeal tends to be less persuasive than the use of a minimal one in bringing about attitude change. However, if the communicator wants the audience to remember the threat and nothing else, then a strong appeal may prove to be persuasive.
Therefore, it should be recognized in school–community relations that fear-arousal messages, either direct or indirect, will not evoke acceptance or help to gain the support required in providing a sound educational program. Messages that help people in the community to see reasonable and feasible solutions to educational problems are more effective in gaining support for needed school programs.
Repeating the Message
Advertisers have known for many years that repeating a message through a variety of media helps to achieve persuasion. The principle of repetition applies equally to school-devised messages. For example, in a rapidly growing community in which pre-kindergartens programs are just starting, it might be necessary to let parents know of their availability and their advantages in early childhood education. By carefully selecting the timing of releases on the subject, a direct mailing of brochures could be made over a three-week period. At the same time, both straight news and feature stories could be prepared for newspapers, and spot announcements could be prepared for radio and television news programs. Both the news stories and the spot announcements could be scheduled three or four days apart over the same three-week period.
Scheduling the announcements about pre-kindergartens in close succession and through different media not only strengthens the impact of the initial exposure to the message but also converges a variety of announcements on the audience from more than one direction. Repetition with variation promotes better message understanding and acceptance.
However, a qualifying note should be emphasized here. Repetition of a message can have an attitude enhancement effect only if the content (stimulus) is positive or neutral. If it is negative, the opposite effect will take place.
The personality of the receiver has a dramatic effect on how the message is processed. Research indicates that people with low self-esteem are predisposed to attitude change when exposed to persuasive messages. This is particularly true if the messages are simple and poorly substantiated. Conversely, high-self-esteem individuals are more often persuaded with complex, but well-substantiated, messages. Experts in attitude change also indicate that individuals with chronically high levels of anxiety and aggressiveness usually resist persuasion.
Further Findings about Persuasion
The following are further findings about persuasion in messages that try to effect attitude change and stimulate behavioral action:
• There is usually better assurance that an audience will comprehend more clearly the nature of a message when it contains a stated conclusion. However, this concept does not always work successfully. A suspicious audience may view the stated conclusion as a deception, whereas a sophisticated one may regard it as an insult to its intelligence.
• When a message suggests a pattern of action for the satisfaction of particular needs and interests, the suggested pattern should generally be in agreement with the norms and beliefs of the group to which the receiver belongs.
• In trying to validate the information received in a message, broadly educated people are likely to turn to outstanding authorities, whereas less well-educated people are likely to turn to their friends and neighbors.
• With reference to matters of taste, individuals who read good books usually listen to good radio programs, whereas those who read light books or none at all listen to light radio programs. This principle of selective exposure applies to a variety of life situations.
• The communicator can influence attitudes or behavior only when the message is accompanied by the possibility of equally valuable changes in the surrounding situation. For example, a parent may pay slight attention to a school leaflet on homework when a child is doing satisfactory work, but the parent may read it carefully when the child’s marks drop sharply.
• Attention may be drawn to communications containing important information through the use of indicators. Indicators are devices that suggest that the message may be valuable to the receiver. Common indicators are boxed stories in newspapers; large headlines over a news story; tones of voice that indicate urgency, sincerity, or fright; colors; and various symbols.
• Face-to-face conversation with a trusted friend who knows a new program from personal experience—let’s say, in reading instruction—has almost the same influential quality as an actual visit to a school and an observation of the program in operation.
• Effective communication calls for the use of several different communication channels. It has been found that some channels may call the receiver’s attention to an issue, others to the alternatives that are open, and still others may convince him or her that a choice is a sound one. Some channels may be useful in helping him or her to carry out a decision.
MEDIA’S ROLE IN COMMUNICATION
Much of the communication that takes place between school personnel and people in the community is through the media—radio, television, newspapers, newsletters, Internet, and magazines. These media are commonly thought of as vehicles or means for transmitting identical messages to many individuals at the same time. For instance, several thousand people may read a feature story in the newspaper describing a special school program in child care for high school students. An equal number may see on a television program the floor plans and site arrangements for a proposed school facility. Many may receive a leaflet about mathematics or listen to a speaker give an illustrated lecture on competitive sports and character development.
Unlike a small group of parents discussing a proposed change in the school lunch schedule or members of the parent–teacher association listening to a talk on teenage health problems, those who constitute a mass communication audience have practically no contact with each other. One person may be looking at a television program on a travelogue through Ontario without knowing whether anyone else in the house next door or on the same street is looking at that program.
However, each person who is independently viewing such a program, reading a news magazine, hearing a radio broadcast, and so on is connected with various groups in the community, such as family, close friends, fellow workers, members of a lodge, or a religious congregation. This fact is important in mass communication because the real impact of messages transmitted by means of the media is produced through the dissemination of ideas and information by individual receivers in small-group situations.
A leaflet on the teaching of spelling in the schools, a news story about the president of the school board, or a television interview with an outstanding teacher may be the subject of conversation over the dinner table, among business associates, or at a social gathering in the neighborhood. What is reported by the individual receiver is then reinterpreted by the group, and the outcome is translated into group opinion and possibly group action. Thus it would seem that an important outcome of mass communication is the influence of the individual receiver in message distribution and opinion development among members of his or her group.
In addition to this, other outcomes are associated with the use of the media. First is that mass communication makes it possible to deliver a message to large numbers of people in a relatively short period. For example, a newspaper story on a proposed annual school budget may be read by a fairly high percentage of citizens in the community the same day that it is printed. Moreover, each reader receives the story in identical form, thereby minimizing the element of distortion that often characterizes message distribution on a person-to-person basis. Second, the media are most effective in creating awareness on the part of message receivers. The media serve as agencies through which information about an innovation, such as a change in the traditional conduct of a school board meeting, is brought to popular attention. Third, research findings consistently indicate that the media serve generally as a means of reinforcement rather than of change. People select messages that they want to see and hear—messages that confirm preexisting beliefs and attitudes. Fourth, most people who learn about an innovation or an event through one medium—for example, the local newspaper—are likely to learn about it through other channels as well. Fifth, there is evidence that frequent repetition of a message helps it to gain acceptance, providing, however, that it is repeated in various ways. The identical repetition of a communication tends to annoy people and can reduce the chances of its being regarded favorably.
Certain limitations are connected with message transmission through the media because of the diverse nature of the audience. In face-to-face communication, the encoder is able to observe the way a communication is being received and to modify it if the receiver’s reaction suggests this need. On the other hand, in mass communication, the sender is dealing with large groups and many classes of people. Thus, if a school pamphlet is published for general distribution in the community, careful attention must be given to its readability; otherwise, it may be pitched above the level of reading appeal and understanding of many of the people who receive it. In view of this limitation and the corresponding lack of feedback, it is advisable to appeal more often to important publics rather than to the general public. This means that a subject can be treated differently for different audiences that make up the several special publics of the school. For example, a leaflet on the financial needs of the school district could be written and designed one way for businesspeople in the community, another way for parents of elementary-school children, and still another way for senior citizens.
It should also be noted that readers, listeners, and viewers have been exposed to thousands of media communications and are therefore able to distinguish between those that are attractive in appearance and skillful in design and those that lack these qualities. This exposure to good techniques causes people to demand excellence in all publications and programs without being conscious of their reasons for doing so. Parents may not expect a school newsletter to look like a report distributed by a large corporation to its stockholders, but they expect it to have an attractive flag, good page layout, readable type, interesting illustrations, and timely news. Skill in handling the media is no guarantee of establishing communication with all receivers, but it does make it much more likely.
Successful communication is tied closely to the way in which words are employed in messages. Although a large body of research studies on this subject is available, only the more pertinent findings will be reviewed here. If used correctly, these findings should improve the meaning and acceptance of school messages intended for various community audiences.
Words are tools for fashioning messages. When used properly, they enable the message receiver to interpret accurately the purpose and meaning that the sender had in mind. The achievement of this outcome calls for a thorough knowledge of word usage and its application in communications for specific audiences.
Research indicates that several measures of word usage must be taken into account by message encoders. To begin, senders cannot tell other people something they themselves do not understand. They must know precisely what they want to say and then make the message easy for the receivers to comprehend. However, in making the message easy to comprehend, senders must be sensitive to the fact that word meaning varies with individuals and environmental conditions. The word football, for example, has a different connotation in England than it does in the United States. The word dog to a canine enthusiast may refer to a friendly, loyal animal, whereas to a person bitten by one the word may represent an unfriendly, vicious animal. In this respect, words can play on an individual’s feelings and tap his or her memory as well.
It is likewise necessary to know the meanings of words that are brought into play by self-interest groups. Each group uses words and phrases peculiar to the goals the group stands for in American life. Bankers talk about prime interest rates, physicians about preventive medicine, educators about curriculum and instruction, and workers about fringe benefits and union contracts. Knowing the meaning of words that are used by self-interest groups enables the message writer or speaker to select those that will be received favorably and understood.
The meaning of a word is influenced by the context in which it appears. For example, the word rare has a different connotation when it refers to a sense of humor than it has when used to describe a piece of meat. For another example, take the words progressive and education. When used separately in a sentence, they are regarded as positive words with acceptable meanings. However, if combined into the term progressive education, they acquire another sense and to some people become negative words that convey emotional overtones. In short, the meaning and reaction to a word can be changed by placing it in another context.
The number of syllables used also appears to have some effect on the readability of printed material. It has been found that words with as many as four or five syllables add to reading difficulty. For this reason, reading specialists advocate the substitution of words with fewer syllables whenever possible. The longer the physical length of a word, the less chance there is of its being understood.
Somewhat similar is the pronunciation problem created by the use of words unfamiliar to the reader. Instead of focusing on what a word means in the message, attention is diverted to the question of how to pronounce it. The reader is often required to spend some time analyzing a word before he or she is able to say it correctly. If too many words in the message are unfamiliar, the pronunciation block may become large enough to destroy the message. However, in the case of uncertainty in the mind of the reader about the status of a word, the word can be clarified casually without suggesting that the reader is ignorant. For example, it could be said in a school publication that “we want to correlate or pull closer together our English and social studies in the middle-school program.”
The semantic effect of word combinations is something that enters into the study of word usage. Research shows that each word in a combination, such as gregarious person, handsome man, or brave boy, has a modifying effect on the other. If the words in a combination are out of harmony, they tend to cancel each other out, but if they are compatible, a new connotation emerges. Usually, the measured meaning of words in combinations leans toward the adjective instead of the noun.
Unfortunately, many school districts communicate only when they are in a crisis. They find themselves in a reactive situation that keeps them in a defensive position. Communication during a crisis is extremely difficult without some planning.
Sadly, many school districts believe that when a crisis arrives, they can eliminate it with some strong public relations. However, the communications and public relations should have taken place before the crisis. Kennedy addresses this point by stating,
Particularly in today’s climate, public relations must be more than crisis communications. It must be more than press releases or egg-on-face statements from officials. Real communication must be constant and personal, blunting the need for any criticisms before they can arise.8
In this way, the severity of a crisis can be reduced. Once into a crisis, a district has to ride it out by communicating the best way it can. What it needs in a crisis is trust and credibility, which can be best established with prior communications and public relations and with much planning.
The National School Public Relations Association has compiled a comprehensive school crisis manual that provides procedures and policies, tips on dealing with the media, and ways to communicate with staff.9 (See Chapter 9 on crisis planning and handling violence.)
Identify a current issue in your local school system. How would you craft a continuance message on this issue, and how would you craft a discontinuance message on the issue? Specify when it might be appropriate to use each message.
How can the values of the sender (source) and the receiver affect the fidelity of the communication process?
What are the implications for school communicators in assessing the values of the sender when selecting spokespersons for particular issues confronting a school system?
If some school board members were to say that you need to work only with the mass media to get school messages across to the community, what would you say to them about that point of view, and how would you counsel them on communication approaches?
Bagin, Don, and Anthony Fulginiti, Practical Public Relations Theories & Practices That Make a Difference. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt, 2006.
Basso, Joseph, Randy Hines, and Suzanne FitzGerald, PR Writer’s Toolbox: Blueprints for Success, 2nd ed. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2013.
Cialdini, Robert B., Influence: Science and Practice, 5th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2008.
De Vito, Joseph A., The Interpersonal Communication Book, 13th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2012.
Dilenschneider, Robert L., The Corporate Communication Bible. Boston, MA: New Millennium, 2004.
National School Public Relations Association, School Public Relations, 2nd ed. Rockville, MD: Author, 2007.
Newsom, Doug, Judy Van Slyke Turk, and Dean Kruckeberg, This Is PR, 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Cengage Wadsworth, 2012.
Wilcox, Dennis L., Glen T. Cameron, Philip H. Ault, and Warren K. Agee, Public Relations Strategies and Tactics, 10th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2011.
1. Charles Horton Cooley, Social Organization (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1909), p. 61.
2. Herbert F. Lionberger, Adoption of New Ideas and Practices (Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press, 1960), p. 3, and Everett M. Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations, 4th ed. (New York, NY: Free Press, 1995), p. 160.
3. Joseph Basso, Randy Hines, and Suzanne FitzGerald, PR Writer’s Toolbox: Blueprints for Success (Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2013), p. 103.
4. Everett M. Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations, 4th ed. (New York, NY: Free Press, 1995), p. 202.
5. Robert S. Topor, Institutional Image: How to Define, Improve, Market It (Washington, DC: Council for Advancement and Support of Education, 1986), p. 55.
6. Eric A. Abbott and J. Paul Yarbrough, “Re-Thinking the Role of Information in Diffusion Theory: An Historical Analysis with an Empirical Test.” Paper submitted to Communication Theory and Methodology Division, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, for its annual convention, New Orleans, LA, 1999, p. 6.
7. Stuart Oskamp, Attitudes and Opinions (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1991), p. 217.
8. Jack L. Kennedy, “Building Positives Must Start with Educators,” Journal of Educational Relations, 16, no. 4 (November 1995), p. 24. Copyright © 1995 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
9. Rick Kaufman, The Complete Crisis Communication Management Manual (Rockville, MD: National School Public Relations Association, 2009).
- What factors should a school and/or district leader consider when crafting a message in response to a crisis situation?
- What factors can influence the fidelity of the communication process? Why is it important to understand these factors prior to making any formal efforts with communication?
Chapter 7 Communicating with Internal Publics
After completing this chapter you should be able to …
■ Demonstrate how internal communication contributes to and supports the success of school–community relations programming.
■ Identify essential internal audience segments and distinguish how each contributes to school–community relations efforts.
■ Describe the role of human relations in developing productive working relationships with internal audiences.
■ Outline methods for communicating with key internal audiences.
Internal communication has become increasingly important to school boards and administrators as a vital part of comprehensive school–community relations programs. In the past it was not uncommon for school systems, in developing a community relations program, to concern themselves exclusively with ways and means of communicating with their external publics. Rarely did they think of structuring a program of effective two-way communication with their internal publics: the employees and students. This has changed as the age of involvement has spread throughout society, including education.
Internal publics, particularly employees, began to see themselves in a different role—one that called for a more active part in the total planning of the educational program along with their professional and personal welfare—and school systems began to realize that good relations with and among internal publics were a necessary part of good public relations.
WHY INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS?
School administrators and boards are coming to understand the importance of good internal communications. This awareness has been brought about by the need to gain continued public support of education. School boards and administrators can no longer get that support alone; they must enlist the help of employees, and doing so requires a structured internal communications program.
School districts, then, see three reasons why a good internal communication program is important: (1) A good external communication program cannot survive without it; (2) constructive ideas will be suggested by employees because someone is listening and informing them; and (3) human needs, such as recognition and a sense of belonging, will be met, thus making employees more productive.
SCHOOL BOARD ACTIONS
In analyzing the causes of good and poor relations within a system, it is advisable to start with the board of education or board of trustees. This body sets the climate of the school system through the exercise of its authority, the conduct of its business, and the relationships it maintains with administrators and staff members.
A local school board is given broad discretionary powers: both the right and the authority under state law to manage the school system. What matters is the manner in which the board of education exercises this authority. If it refuses to listen to the advice of the chief executive officer, shows indifference to the welfare of the employees, usurps the functions of the administrator, rules on matters about which it is uninformed, issues unreasonable orders, makes political appointments, tries to summarily dismiss teachers, listens to parental complaints without consulting principals and teachers, and engages in other undesirable practices, it soon creates unfavorable working conditions and lowers the morale of employees. The result is that the school employees no longer feel a loyalty to the system and do not hesitate to say what they think about the board of education and the policies with which they are forced to comply.
The Conduct of Board Business
The board of education is legally required to conduct its business in regular meetings and in special meetings called from time to time. All meetings are open with the exception of executive sessions. In some states the decisions reached in executive sessions are not binding until voted on in an open meeting.
Whether a board adheres to the proper conduct of its business exerts a direct influence on public and employee attitudes. A well-organized meeting in which sincere efforts are made to serve the school community will inspire employees with confidence, respect, and trust; a poorly managed, perfunctory, and discordant meeting will leave a residue of discontent.
Relations with the Superintendent
School board relations with the superintendent deserve special consideration in any discussion of internal affairs. In many systems, the board of education is organized into a series of standing committees. Each committee is made responsible for some area of the school program. There may be committees on personnel, buildings and grounds, transportation, finance, public relations, instruction, and welfare. This system is used to expedite board business and to divide the amount of work carried by members. However, it has definite weaknesses that should be recognized:
• The executive officer is required to report to committees instead of taking up problems with the whole board of education.
• These committees become policymaking bodies because their recommendations are, as a rule, accepted by the board without much question.
• Members of the board have but slight understanding of the system aside from the specific areas in which they work on committee assignments.
• The tendency is strong for committees to encroach on the administrative function of the superintendent.
This form of board organization can easily produce unfavorable relations with superintendents and reduce the effectiveness of their leadership in school systems.
Complaints received by board members from teachers, parents, and people in the community are another cause of poor relationships if they are handled incorrectly. Sound administration requires that all complaints be referred to the superintendent of schools and cleared through him or her with members of the staff. If satisfaction is not received by the complaining party, before any official action is taken the board can request the superintendent to report the facts and tell what he or she has done. Instead of following this procedure, or one comparable to it, some board members assume responsibility for settling complaints themselves. They not only take over the authority of the superintendent but also undermine his or her prestige in the school and community. The incorrect handling of complaints is a fertile breeding ground for discord in the relationship of the board and the superintendent.
The kind of interest that board members show in education problems is another potential area of disagreement between board members and the superintendent. As a professional adviser to the board and the educational leader of the school system, it is up to the superintendent to keep the board informed of current problems and to recommend courses of action for meeting existing needs. Although superintendents do not expect the board to approve all of their recommendations, they do expect that the members will consider suggestions with a fair degree of impartiality. If board members are casual or indifferent about a superintendent’s recommendations, or if their decisions are made for personal, business, or political reasons, the superintendent is left with the alternative of either protesting vigorously or going along with the board for his or her own security. In the long run, superintendents who play the game for their own security may enjoy smoother relations with the board, but their leadership role in the school system and the community may be forfeited.
Adverse relations may also develop from the kind of methods employed by the superintendents in dealing with boards. For instance, superintendents may withhold vital information to protect themselves, or they may initiate important policies without consulting the board beforehand. Some superintendents destroy goodwill by assuming an attitude of intellectual superiority and by insisting on the right to decide all educational policies. A few may try to elicit community pressure to get what they want and, failing this, to engage in a whispering campaign to defeat members who are up for reelection.
Board relations with staff personnel are carried on mostly through the superintendent. He or she is expected to advise the board on staff problems and to recommend policies.
Relationships between the board of education and the superintendent of schools have a positive or a negative effect on relationships between the superintendent and the employees. A superintendent who enjoys good relations with the board is more likely to look upon his or her job as an opportunity to build a better school system. Employees catch the spirit of the superintendent and welcome the leadership provided. A different reaction takes place when the superintendent is forced to contend with an unpleasant board that is more interested in saving money than in building a good school system.
The use of the word superintendent in this chapter pertains to school districts other than large city or county districts. In large districts, where the superintendent often is far removed from districtwide employees, the suggestions in this chapter might apply to regional, cluster, or deputy superintendents.
Primary relations between administration and employees start with the superintendent and flow down a line of authority to the assistant superintendent, directors of special departments, supervisors, and building principals, according to the size of the system. The superintendent is the one who sets the overall pattern of relationships, because of his or her position as chief executive officer. Under proper administrative conditions, success or failure is bound up closely with the willingness of the employees to support the superintendent’s policies. In systems where desirable administration–employee relations are found, the superintendent is usually a capable executive who possesses a dynamic and pleasing personality, a deep respect for human values, and an ability to work democratically with people. His or her policies follow a clearly defined philosophy of education and management and include recognition of staff achievements, opportunities for growth in service, staff participation in policy and program development, fair treatment, satisfactory working conditions, and a sincere concern for staff welfare. What a school system has in the way of organization, administrative procedures, instruction, plant, and esprit de corps is due largely to the policies, leadership, courage, and vision of the superintendent.
Except in small school systems, the superintendent must rely on subordinate administrative and supervisory officers to promote desirable staff relations. Poor subordinates, however, may do much to impede his or her leadership and efforts to build a unified school system. They can misinterpret policies and badly manage excellent programs. Their individual struggles for prestige and power may divide staff loyalties and set up competing factions. Unless superintendents have capable and reliable subordinates, they may find themselves heading a mediocre and strife-torn system.
Aside from the superintendent, perhaps the most important administrative officers are the building principals. They may be in more intimate contact with the staff than their immediate superiors. The attitudes and actions of principals often determine the way in which many teachers and other school personnel think and feel about the school system.
Human Relations in Improving Employee Relations
The day has long since passed when school administration can be considered as purely a technical skill of developing a budget, constructing and maintaining school plants, assigning teachers, accounting for students, operating school cafeterias, and providing transportation. All these are necessary and vital to the operation of a school or a school system. However, another skill, the human skill, must be considered in any discussion of good school administration, particularly where internal relations are concerned.
Sergiovanni, Kelleher, McCarthy, and Wirt contend, “Human skill refers to the school administrator’s ability to work effectively and efficiently with others on a one-to-one basis and in group settings. The skill requires considerable self-understanding and acceptance as well as appreciation, empathy, and consideration for others.”1
Running through studies in all areas of administration is a consensus that, although technical skills cannot be disregarded, human skills are vital. The relationship that should exist between human and technical skills has been outlined by Sergiovanni et al.:
Human skills seem equally important to administrative and supervisory roles throughout the school hierarchy. Regardless of position, all administrators work through others; that is, they use human skills to achieve goals.2
School administrators, therefore, must focus attention on acquiring skills to deal with human problems. A necessary requirement for an administrator to develop skills in human relations is a positive attitude toward the supreme worth of all individuals. Not only must this attitude be present in the administrators, but it must be evident and manifested in their behavior. It is not enough for them to state that they believe in democratic administration and total involvement of their staffs and employees; they must verify this philosophy in their day-to-day relations with their employees by showing their regard for others and by generating goodwill among school employees. Good human relations is a matter of using good common sense in administration, which in turn will generate mutual respect and goodwill.
In a successful school system the spirit of goodwill is a pervasive feeling that emanates from the board of education, the chief school administrator, and the administrative and supervisory staff. Educators may think they are practicing good human relations if they provide their employees with good salaries, comfortable work areas, release time, social functions, free coffee, and reserved parking spaces. Important as these features are in the total picture of good employee relations, if such benefits are provided out of a spirit of paternalism to make the employees more compliant, they will not bring about the desired result of good human relations. Employees must perceive that administrators and supervisors are being sincere and honest with them if goodwill and mutual respect are to develop in a school system.
Administrators must train themselves to be sensitive to the importance of communicating through their own behavior and action. If this behavior belies what they say, they will invariably have difficulty in maintaining good human relations. In taking action or making a decision, administrators must anticipate how their employees will perceive the matter. Take, for example, the superintendent who informed the staff that the budget was to be cut and no additional hiring was to take place. In the meantime, the superintendent, preoccupied with an additional assignment from the board of education, hired an additional secretary. The new workload may have warranted the hiring of an additional person, but the school personnel perceived it differently as they had slashed their own budget and denied themselves services. To them the superintendent’s behavior destroyed the sincerity of what had been said and served to reduce the superintendent’s chances of improving relations with them.
Ultimately, good human relations will lead to better employee relations because of job satisfaction. A problem in education is that a number of administrators make the assumption that the factors that contribute to job satisfaction also contribute to job dissatisfaction. According to Herzberg,3 these are two separate sets of factors. He includes under satisfiers (motivational needs) such factors as achievement, recognition, work itself, responsibility, advancement, and growth. Under dissatisfiers (hygienic needs) he lists policy and administration; salary; work conditions; interpersonal relations with supervisors, peers, and subordinates; status; security; supervision; and personal life. If these hygienic needs are met, employee dissatisfaction is prevented rather than having an impact on employee satisfaction with work. The hygienic needs relate to the condition of the work, whereas the motivational needs relate to the work itself. Herzberg reasoned that because the factors causing satisfaction are different from those causing dissatisfaction, the two feelings cannot simply be treated as opposites of one another. The opposite of satisfaction is not dissatisfaction but no satisfaction. Similarly, the opposite of dissatisfaction is no dissatisfaction.
In order for the employee to move from the hygienic needs to the motivational needs, where morale and productivity improve, the hygienic needs must be reasonably met.
In relating Herzberg’s theory to education, Sergiovanni and Carver note:
It must be remembered, however, that in general providing of hygienic needs prevents decreases in performance but will not increase performance. The motivation to work beyond what is necessary to meet minimum requirements comes from the satisfier set—achievement and recognition, for example. According to the theory, these are the motivators. This concept is of fundamental importance, for the theory suggests that it is a mistaken notion to assume that school executives can buy teacher motivation through concessions across the collective-bargaining table or in similar ways. The bargaining process as we presently know it is largely limited to hygienic concerns.4
Relations Among Teachers
Relations among teachers should be evaluated for the effect they have on public opinion. Poor relations have resulted in serious damage to school systems and to the status of professional employees in the community. Teachers have undermined support and respect for the school system by criticizing the work of colleagues to pupils, parents, and the public. Some teachers have openly opposed school policies—as well as newer educational practices and legislative proposals aimed at improving their own welfare—in news and social media. Teachers who engage in these practices are both their own worst enemies and the enemies of the school system. The problems they create must be worked out by administrators who wish to improve and strengthen relations with the community.
The reasons for poor relations among teachers can be traced to a variety of causes. The more typical reasons are instructional practices, unethical conduct, division of responsibility, formation of cliques, and lack of administrative leadership.
Lack of Administrative Leadership
Unity among staff personnel is difficult to produce without strong administrative leadership. Lack of such leadership diverts attention from problems of teaching and learning and brings into prominence petty differences and personal irritations common to any group of people. This in turn leads to rivalry, clique formation, destructive criticism, disagreement, and quarreling. These human weaknesses are less significant and destructive in a school system in which the administrative leader brings teachers together to share ideas, to identify instructional problems, to pool resources, to define acceptable goals, and to coordinate their services.
Instructional practices in any good school should be guided by a definite statement of the philosophy and objectives of teaching. When there is no definite agreement on such philosophy and objectives, friction may develop between teachers and may leave parents confused as to what kind of education their children are receiving. One teacher may believe that children grow best in a democratic institution with as much freedom as they can manage successfully, whereas another teacher may believe that children should be kept under strict control and be told exactly what to do. One teacher may give home assignments as an aid to subject-matter mastery, and another may think that home assignments are unnecessary. One may employ a methodology of recitation, drill, and testing; another may build instruction around problems and projects involving many different types of learning activities. Differences in instructional practices can be a serious cause of poor relations among teachers.
Unethical conduct creates friction among teachers, and examples are numerous. For instance, a teacher may attribute the weaknesses of a class to poor instruction by the previous teacher and make this opinion known to pupils and parents. Sometimes parents are told that their children do not read well thanks to the methods used by the second-grade teacher, or that their children will pay an educational penalty later on because certain members of the staff are not upholding desirable achievement standards. Teachers who show initiative and imagination, who experiment with newer methods, and who try different curricular arrangements are often ridiculed by colleagues for their efforts. Any teacher who is the target of unfair criticism and abuse by colleagues is bound to feel resentful.
Malicious gossip and rumor are other forms of unethical conduct that induce strained relations among faculty members. These unfair practices can disrupt harmony among staff members and cause much unnecessary suffering. Teachers cannot work together efficiently and present a solid front to the public when they are beset by malicious gossip and rumor.
Division of Responsibility
Disturbances often arise over the division of responsibility among teachers. A heavy classroom schedule will be accepted without too much complaint, provided some teachers do not receive fewer classes, smaller sections, and fewer preparations than others. Sponsorship of extracurricular activities may elicit vigorous protest from those who are assigned such difficult, time-consuming activities as newspapers, yearbooks, and dramatics, for which no allowance is made in workload. Resentment over unfair division of responsibility becomes acute when there is a reasonable suspicion that favoritism has been shown to some members of the staff. The resentment is directed as much at these members as at the administrative officers who are responsible for staff assignments.
Formation of Cliques
Cliques are small, exclusive groups of individuals who band together for their own interest and protection. They keep to themselves as much as possible. In an individual school, members of the various departments or other groups may remain apart from their colleagues, feeling that they have little in common with the rest of the faculty.
Cliques thrive mostly in schools where nothing is done to involve the staff in the study of common problems and where administrators remain in the background. The influence of such cliques can be modified when the causes are known and suitable measures worked out for diverting attention to instructional improvements.
RELATIONS WITH NONINSTRUCTIONAL PERSONNEL
School administrators and boards of education sometimes forget that noninstructional personnel are also frontline interpreters of the school. For example, custodians, secretaries, clerks, bus drivers, food-service workers, and maintenance personnel have many contacts in the community with friends and neighbors and through membership in religious, fraternal, and social groups. Their attitudes toward the institution and its personnel are just as important as those of teachers in influencing the public mind. When noninstructional personnel are dissatisfied with their jobs and do not get along well with staff members, the reasons are usually associated with politics, job definition, recognition, and economic welfare.
Much of the trouble between instructional and non-instructional personnel could be avoided through the technique of job definition so that each individual understands what is expected of him or her. When responsibilities are not well specified, the result is often disagreement over who does what. The janitor claims that the teacher should have children pick up stray pieces of paper on the floor before they are dismissed. The teacher blames the janitor for leaving the window shades uneven or not arranging seats in proper order. Clerks refuse to duplicate work needed for classroom instruction and object to teachers using office phones during certain hours.
Noninstructional staff personnel want acknowledgment and praise for outstanding service just as much as teachers, and they seldom receive any. Instead, they are treated by some teachers as social inferiors and are criticized in front of pupils. Conflicts involving noninstructional personnel would be reduced and almost eliminated if friendly attitudes were shown toward them and they were accorded deserved recognition. Better relations have been promoted in schools where these workers are invited to faculty meetings and serve on staff committees dealing with matters in which they have an interest.
IMPROVEMENT OF STAFF RELATIONS
The improvement of staff relations starts with the board of education. Through its actions in conducting meetings, showing an intelligent concern for instructional problems, extending fair treatment to administrative staff personnel, and maintaining a strict division of labor between policy decision and policy execution, the board of education can inspire confidence and build a real feeling of security that will permeate the entire school system.
Given this condition, the superintendent and those who assist him or her have an excellent opportunity to foster good staff relations and to make progress toward the achievement of educational goals. The extent to which they succeed will depend on their friendliness, understanding, integrity, and skill in working with people.
In a small school system, the superintendent is the person responsible for establishing cooperative relations with and among members of the staff, largely through leadership in everyday affairs that involve close personal relations. As a school system increases in size, opportunities for personal relations between the superintendent and the staff become fewer. It then becomes the function of the superintendent to establish the climate for good relations through personal contact with representatives from various groups in the school system. Along with this, the superintendent must instruct his or her intermediary assistants and supervisory personnel that they are responsible for close personal relationships with each employee under their supervision. Of this group, none is quite so important as the individual principal. Unless he or she seeks to achieve good employee relations, efforts on the part of the superintendent at the district level might be diffused and therefore ineffective.
More is needed to effect wholesome internal relations between members of the staff and the administration than merely a spirit of personal leadership by those in charge of a school system. Practices and structures must be in place that contribute to the development of good relations.
Studies of internal communications and staff morale frequently reveal that managers and administrators mistakenly assume they know what each employee wants from his or her job. Managers generally rate good pay, job security, promotion, and growth among the top items they believe employees desire. Employees, however, frequently express other key desires: doing interesting work, receiving appreciation for jobs well done, and having a sense of involvement in the workplace.
There can be a communication disconnect between supervisors and employees when it comes to job recognition. Heathfield notes that numerous studies have documented that employees often seek more than financial rewards for work performed while supervisors see money as the key motivator employees seek. Recognition from employers for work done well often is an important motivational aspect cited by employees, while research has found that supervisors often cite money as a more important motivator for employees.5 Sirota, Mischkind, and Meltzer claim there are three basic goals of people at work: They want to be treated fairly, have a sense of accomplishment from work, and have camaraderie.6
In another study cited in the late Pat Jackson’s pr reporter,7 “Ability to have a ‘balanced’ lifestyle blending with time off for friends and family” was the number-one priority of public relations employees. Conversely, the managers of the public relations firms ranked it number eight on their understanding of employees’ priorities. This ranked above “financial compensation,” which managers thought would be employees’ number-one want.
It would seem, then, that managers and school administrators tend to communicate from a value perspective that is different from that of school employees. In reality, what the school administrator thinks is important to the employee is not. If morale is to be improved and internal communications accomplished, the school administrator must attempt to understand the work environment needs and wants of employees and communicate from that perspective.
Perhaps one way of approaching the problem is through a structured internal communications program that encompasses participatory management approaches fostering good employee feedback and involvement. Some components of a functional internal communications program are discussed in the following sections.
The purpose of these conferences is to enable the administrator to learn the values and priorities of each employee regarding the job assigned. In addition, the employee learns what the administrator and the school district think is important for the organization.
One technique used during a conference is to provide the employee and the administrator with a sheet of paper each. The employee is asked to list what is important to him or her to get the job done. Simultaneously, the administrator lists on a sheet of paper what he or she feels the employee considers important to complete assigned duties. They then compare the lists, discuss the differences, and see how the employee’s values do or do not mesh with the school’s values. The second phase of this process reverses the first phase. The administrator lists what he or she feels is important to get the job done. At the same time, the employee lists on a separate sheet of paper what he or she thinks the administrator considers important to carry out his or her duties. Perceptions are then discussed, with a better understanding of each other’s values resulting.
A wise administrator will have a conference with each employee to learn his or her workplace values. Usually, those things that the employee feels are important to getting his or her job done are things that can be influenced or changed by the administrator—for example, getting sufficient supplies in a timely fashion, being able to post student work on walls, having a parking space, or getting proper furniture in a room. When administrators can effect changes, they should do so; when they can’t because of legal, budgetary, or policy reasons, they should communicate that to the employee.
Once the administrator understands these workplace values of employees, he or she can communicate messages that address what employees feel is important. Otherwise, employees will tend not to listen to what is communicated.
Another technique to gather feedback from employees emphasizes candidness by employees, yet provides anonymity. All employees of a school district or a school meet in a group. Each employee is asked to list anonymously all his or her likes and concerns about the district or school. Each employee then joins two other employees, and the three combine their lists. Those three, in turn, join another group of three employees, and they too combine their lists. No names appear on any of the lists. The coordinator of the session lists on a flipchart, or board, all the likes and concerns. Employees then vote to identify the top 10 likes or concerns. The employees can be formed into committees to develop strategies for eliminating the concerns and maintaining the strengths of the school district or school. This one–three–six workshop is a communication approach that gives employees an opportunity to be heard and to feel a part of making their school or school district better.
Internal Advisory Committees
Regardless of the size of the school system, employees want some contact with the chief school administrator other than through the usual administrative channels or over a bargaining table. They want to be able to express their concerns, to have some direct impact on policy development, and to suggest ideas that will improve the overall effectiveness of the school system. Many employees feel that in order to be heard they must communicate with all levels of administration, particularly the top level. The traditional procedure of communicating through one’s immediate superior is viewed by many employees as a deliberate move to keep them silent and under control. It also is often true that a step-by-step procedure of communicating upward through the levels of administration tends to stifle employee initiative and creativity.
Some foresighted school administrators, recognizing the need to communicate with employees and to involve them in the overall planning of the school system, have created a superintendent’s advisory committee. The committee is designed not only to hear what members of the internal community have to say but also to help inform employees of the many activities of the school district. A number of models have proved functional. One is in the form of a general advisory committee with membership from all constituencies of the school system. Another model is that of special advisory committees according to positions—one for the faculty (teachers, counselors, and librarians) and another for classified employees (office workers, transportation personnel, cafeteria workers, and the maintenance force). Normally, if a general advisory committee is organized, there is little need for special advisory committees, and vice versa.
The effectiveness of advisory committees depends a great deal on the attitude of superintendents and their ability to orchestrate the whole communication process that develops. If, in creating an advisory committee, their attitude is to talk “at” the representatives and not “with” them, the committee, as a one-way communication vehicle, will eventually become ineffective. However, the committee can be helpful to the entire educational program if superintendents perceive issues from the viewpoint of an administrator and an employee, if they are sensitive to the importance employees might place on an issue, if they can effect change where change is possible and offer a rationale where change is not possible, and if they keep the committee informed.
Many times a concern of a committee may seem to be insignificant to the superintendent although it is of major concern to the committee. Often it is an item that can be changed or corrected by a simple memo or phone call from the superintendent. For example, getting their supplies on a Monday rather than on a Friday may be vital to teachers, yet the superintendent may not be aware of a problem related to that. Furthermore, his or her administrative staff may not be aware of the problem either. An advisory committee, then, may be one of the few ways such an overall problem of the staff can be revealed.
There are times that the superintendent will have to reject the advice of the committee and say no to a requested change in procedure, and it should be understood by the committee members that this will happen. In these cases the superintendent should give the rationale for saying no. Committee members may not agree with this decision, but with an explanation they will understand better how the decision was reached.
Particularly important is the committee’s ability to help the superintendent communicate with the other employees. If a new program is being launched, details can be relayed to the committee for further dissemination. The details of the annual budget can be passed along to the employees through the committee as one of a number of ways of keeping the employees informed of the activities of the school system.
Over a period of time the superintendent should be able to begin anticipating sensitive areas among employees from the issues discussed at the advisory committee meetings. In turn, he or she may be able to effect change or develop a communication strategy that can eliminate a possible crisis or confrontation with employees.
One of the quickest ways to find out how good morale is in the schools is to ask employees this question: “If you had an idea to improve the schools and it would cost nothing to implement it, would you suggest it?” In some school districts that we worked with, 80 percent of the employees said that they would. In others, only 10 percent said they would suggest the idea. This is a quick way to find out how people feel about where they work. The following are examples of easy ways to let the staff know that you’re noticing they’re doing a good job:
• One hospital started a CIA (“Caught in the Act”) card. Employees were given these cards to distribute to other employees who they saw doing something special for other employees or for patients. Each card would be worth a free lunch in the cafeteria.
• A publishing company gave each employee 10 coupons, again to distribute to employees they saw doing something especially well; 1 coupon was worth a free lunch, 2 were worth a dinner, and 10 were worth a night at a local casino. If funding is not available for such initiatives, perhaps a local company would be willing to sponsor and pay for such an undertaking.
You won’t find effecktancy in the dictionary. It’s a combination of effectiveness and efficiency. The idea is designed to generate suggestions to make your school district better.
Here’s how you might set it up: Announce the idea and follow it up with articles in your internal newsletter, explaining that the purpose is to make the schools better. People may suggest things that will save money or will enable a job to be done better. Everyone who submits an idea has his or her name placed in a hat. Each month a name is drawn from the hat. The winner gets $250 or some other prize. At the end of the year, the grand prize winner gets a trip to Hawaii.
During the months that the program is in effect, banners are hung, buttons may be distributed, and articles in newsletters can share the best ideas. Each suggestion is responded to by the superintendent or someone designated to do so. Each person submitting an idea that is implemented will receive 10 percent of the savings or additional profits that come from the idea.
One company that implemented the idea went from 23 suggestions in a year to over 1,400. Again, you might receive funding from a local supporter.
Recognition of Accomplishments
Another policy of far-reaching importance in building good relations is that of recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of individuals and groups. All individuals, no matter what kind of work they do, are psychologically so constructed that they must know whether their labors are being appreciated by those above them in the line of authority. They may not be willing to do their best or to expend extra effort if what they do is taken for granted. Studies of morale among workers in industry have borne out this point, but for some unexplainable reason little has been done about it by some administrators. Yet it can be accomplished rather easily, with a letter praising an employee, a note of thanks, a pleasant telephone call, or a congratulatory note.
Involvement in Planning
Administrators interested in fostering good internal communications would be wise to involve all employees in the planning processes for the entire school district. It would seem that each employee has enough expertise to benefit the school district by serving on a planning committee or task force on—for example—curriculum, long-range goals, finances, buildings, athletics, or community relations. Employees asked to serve on such planning committees or task forces will feel a sense of belonging and be honored that they are invited to help improve the school district. Their interest in working for the schools should increase once they have a chance to be heard and possibly effect needed changes. In addition, this upward communication from the employees as a result of serving on planning committees or task forces has another benefit: Many new ideas are generated that ultimately will help the instructional program either directly or indirectly.
Aside from involving employees in general district planning, some school officials have found it helpful to involve employees in designing activities for their own positions. This type of planning requires the employees to develop goals, objectives, and activities for their own positions. Once these are developed, the employee meets with his or her administrator and negotiates a final plan, usually for a year. This type of planning requires communications between the employee and administrator in order to agree on a plan and to monitor the progress periodically and gives the employee a chance to have a voice in his or her professional activities.
The quality circles concept was developed in Japan in the 1960s. American corporations became enamored with it and copied it in their quality improvement efforts. With new names such as quality teams or improvement teams, quality circles have been tailored to focus also on the improvement of the whole system rather than exclusively on one specific area. Although these new-fashioned quality circles continue to emphasize the achievement of quality, they now include maintaining quality once it’s reached. Educators, then, would be wise to examine the original concept as a way to improve not only internal communications but also the instructional and operational processes in the school system.
In the original concept, a quality or improvement circle is composed of 7 to 10 people who do similar work. They meet voluntarily on a regular basis to identify and analyze sources of problems, to recommend solutions to the administration, and, where possible, to implement solutions. Each group has a leader or facilitator to keep the discussion from digressing from the prescribed agenda. The leaders might be educators from outside the district until facilitators can be trained from among administrators and employees within the school district.
Improvement circle meetings have a definite structure to them with an agenda, a conducive meeting place, and limited guidelines for functioning. In many cases the agenda is determined by the circle ahead of time and includes such items as pay, insurance, benefits, personalities, or grievances. Likewise, meetings do not interfere with the negotiation process. Meetings are scheduled for conference rooms with the necessary supplies and equipment to enhance productive discussions and analyses of problems.
The improvement circle process consists of six major steps: problem identification, problem selection, problem analysis, recommended solutions, management review, and recommendations for implementation.
Important in the improvement circle process is the selection of the problems to be addressed. Members develop lists of problems related directly to their jobs that they consider of major importance to carry out their work in an efficient manner. Noncircle members such as other employees and administrators are contacted for problems the circle can discuss. Circle members then compile a list of the problems, put them in some order of priority, and begin to address them.
The circle members are the ones who select the problems to be worked on. No pressure or guidance from outside the circle should be permitted. Once a problem is analyzed and a solution is determined, a formal presentation is made to the appropriate administrator. Acceptance of the recommendation by the administration is a strong motivation for the circle members to address the next problem on their list.
The improvement circle process cultivates better internal communications by meeting the employee’s basic need for a feeling of belonging, providing for employee feedback of creative ideas and suggestions, encouraging all employees to focus on the primary purpose of helping students learn better, and establishing an environment of communication between the administration and employees.
The administration of a school district communicates with employees more, perhaps, by actions than by words. What is done often has more of an impact than what is said. Programs established to benefit employees are important in this respect. One that says to employees “You’re important” is a staff development program that helps employees improve professionally.
A staff development program provides employees with professional direction, permits them to attend conferences and workshops in their field, reimburses them for courses taken, and provides salary increments for professional development. Such a program not only makes them better employees but also communicates that the district does care about its employees. Ultimately, this should have a positive effect on the students.
A staff development program, along with other employee communications methods, often can solve problems resulting from employee coastout (a term coined by Don Bagin to describe an employee who merely does an adequate job but in a sense rests on his or her oars until retirement, sometimes many years away). Many times the school administration has not provided an atmosphere that recognizes or uses the employee’s expertise properly. A staff development program with numerous one-on-one conferences between administrators and employees will unearth the coastout syndrome and tailor programs that motivate employees to strive for more efficiency. Employees, particularly teachers, who feel a minimum loyalty from the school district will direct their professional skills outside the schools, where recognition and satisfaction are more easily attained; when this happens, motivation is low, and teachers use the minimum energy to provide an adequate result in the classroom.
Many districts overlook the support service employees in a staff development program. Maintenance personnel, custodians, office workers, bus drivers, food-service workers, and other noninstructional employees are motivated to do a better job when provided a formal program to improve themselves. A staff development program, obviously, will not motivate every employee to improve, but if functioning properly, it will communicate a positive message to all employees that the district wants to help them professionally. Many, if not most, will respond.
Orientation of New Employees
A well-structured orientation program for new employees can be extremely effective in developing good staff relations. Employees new to a school system can become bitter and resentful if they are not properly familiarized with the school or are not told what is expected of them. Successful programs have included a meeting with the district’s central office personnel to learn about the characteristics of the system and to be informed of the procedures for pay, medical benefits, purchasing, and housing availability in the area. Afterward, new employees meet with the administrators and other employees of their assigned department or building. Often they are assigned a mentor from the current staff to be with them during orientation. Generally, the mentor is from the same department in which the new staff member will be working and therefore can be readily available to help and to answer questions that come up. New employees who are made to feel welcome and are helped in adjusting to their new duties will probably be better employees.
Often overlooked in employee relations programs are substitute teachers. Generally, substitute teachers are members of the local community who can carry their impressions of the school to their friends and neighbors in the community. Prior to the opening of school, it is wise to meet with all substitute teachers who have registered with the school system. At that time they can be given information on the policies and regulations of a school, a schedule of classes, some facts about enrollments, a map of the room locations, and the procedures to follow if they are reporting for a teaching assignment. If they are called to substitute for a regular teacher, their job is made easier if they are provided with a set of lesson plans, a seating chart, a roll book, and a copy of the books and materials needed for the teaching assignment. In addition, they should be warmly welcomed into the teachers’ dining room for coffee and meals. Department chairpersons or subject coordinators in high schools and principals or head teachers in elementary schools can be very helpful in welcoming a substitute teacher to the school and to a teaching assignment. Some systems provide substitute teachers with a publication that outlines what is expected of them and contains helpful hints and suggestions for carrying out their teaching assignments.
Internal Publications, Web Sites, E-Mail, and Social Media
A school district can lose face with its employees when they constantly learn about happenings in the district from an outside source, usually through the news media. Occasionally, this is unavoidable. Nevertheless, the superintendent and his or her administrative staff must be continually sensitive to the need of the employees to be kept informed as soon as possible of activities in the district. Many districts can inform their employees via e-mail and the district’s Web, social media, and intranet sites.
One very popular type of publication summarizes the actions of the board of education. Many districts attempt to have a brief write-up of board meetings in the hands of the employees prior to public discussion in the local news media. However, in some systems this is impossible since the meeting may be broadcast on TV or radio. Still, there are many details that can be supplied to the employees, such as the appointment of personnel or the letting of bids. The publication may be simple in design with a colorful masthead. The summary can be inexpensively duplicated or printed.
An employee newsletter (either print or online) is another popular medium of communicating with employees. The format of internal publications can range from a formal newsletter with photos to a fact sheet highlighting general activities of the school system. Whether in print or online, these publications are most effective when written in clear, simple language that avoids educational jargon—as many of a school system’s employees are noneducators.
Many school systems overlook the importance of distributing publications designed for external audiences to internal audiences as well. Examples include a community newsletter, a pamphlet welcoming new parents, and a calendar of school activities. School employees feel more a part of the educational team if they have access to copies of external publications that the school sends to the community.
Other popular internal publications are curriculum newsletters, a formal publication that notifies employees of vacant positions in the district, a substitute teacher handbook, general information brochures, an internal professional publication that contains articles written by employees, and written summaries of important internal meetings.
COMMUNICATING DURING NEGOTIATIONS AND STRIKES
Unfortunately, the image the public has of a school district when a strike occurs is not a pleasant one. Much of the image has to do with the messages coming from both sides. Many citizens can’t understand how “educated” people can adhere to an emotional rhetoric that points an accusing finger at the other side. Nor can they understand why, in the negotiating process, time is wasted by both sides starting from extreme positions, knowing that ultimately both sides will have to compromise with a moderate position. “Why,” they ask, “couldn’t they start with reasonable demands and positions, cut the rhetoric, reduce the emotionalism, and get the children back to school?”
This public image of schools is unfortunate because this is the very public whose confidence in the schools is needed for continued support. That confidence has not been as high as it should have been in recent years, caused in part by strikes; the long, drawn-out negotiations process; poor communications with the public; and poor internal communications.
Mistakenly, many school systems believe that negotiation procedures are confined to a period of haggling over demands laid on the table by both sides. However, more is involved. It is the overall picture of what takes place throughout the year that has a decisive impact on the negotiating sessions.
It must be emphasized that good employee relations are achieved and less severe bargaining sessions experienced when teachers and noninstructional employees are consulted by the board of education and the administration on questions relating to their welfare and their working conditions. Their recommendations may not always be accepted, but this is less important than the right to make their wants known. School employees are willing to go along with a policy or a program when they understand the facts behind it, even though the policy runs contrary to their opinions.
Many of the demands placed on the bargaining table by employees are concerns that employees may have expressed to the administration, and they were ignored as being insignificant. Take, for example, a request by teachers that a desk and a chair be available in each classroom. This furniture had been missing for some time despite the fact that it was requested for three years in a row. The administration felt it was insignificant, didn’t have the money for new furniture, and therefore ignored it. Ultimately, the request for the furniture became a demand at the next collective bargaining session. It didn’t have to be, and in addition it made the negotiations on other items more testy because of the lack of trust by the teachers. Through special or general advisory committees, the school administration should be identifying such concerns and meeting them where legitimate. This can reduce the time needed for negotiations.
Experts contend that good communication is the key to keeping the school district together during negotiations and strikes. Bad communication can cause confusion and diminish the school system in the eyes of the public, the media, and the employees. It is vital that all three of these publics be kept informed. Public statements should be objective and be made jointly or by either side. They should outline the issues being covered but not the biased position of each side. The statements should be totally factual, free of emotion, and not slanted to make one side or the other look good or bad.
Important, too, is the need for one spokesperson for each side. For the school district that could be the communication specialist, the chief negotiator, or the president of the board of education. Otherwise, if various members of either side make public statements, confusion and inaccuracies result. Experts believe the superintendent should not be the spokesperson because after negotiations or a strike he or she has to unite the employees and the district to get back to educating children.
Whenever financial figures are presented, particularly in salary increments and percentages of pay increases, they should be given with background information explaining how they were determined. Otherwise both sides may accuse the other side of lying because inaccurate figures are revealed. In reality, often both sides may be accurate, but they are not explaining how they arrived at the final data. For example, the employees may say they are being offered a 6 percent increase, and the school district says the employees are getting a 10 percent increase. They are both correct if they explain how they determined the percentage. The employees are not including a scheduled increment as part of the overall increase and the school district is.
Communication between the school district and its employees is vital during negotiations or a strike. Many districts make weak attempts to communicate internally at such times, feeling the employees’ organization or union will provide that service to the employees. School districts must not abdicate this responsibility. Otherwise, the employees may not understand fully the position of the school district on issues.
Not to be overlooked is communication with students, particularly at the secondary level. Some educators feel that it is important to communicate with students once a strike occurs. Perhaps it would be wise to communicate prior to the strike. Any communications should be factual, stating issues and the school district’s position. Care should be taken not to portray teachers or any other employees as being at fault in a strike. Otherwise, when the strike is over, student respect for the teachers may be difficult to restore.
COMMUNICATING WITH STUDENTS
A universal question asked in many homes each evening across the nation is “What did you learn in school today?” The answer to such a question is important, of course, but perhaps just as important is the emphasis such a question places on the student as a communications link between the school and the home. An impressive number of parents in every community form their judgments of a school system from the comments that are made about it by students. They hear the students discuss their teachers, talk about homework assignments, express opinions on the value of what they do in classes, evaluate the fairness of rules and regulations, and describe experiences they had with school staff members.
No school can expect to enjoy the confidence and support of parents unless the comments of most students are favorable to the system. Much may be done in the name of community relations, but what a school system does may be neutralized if the day-to-day relationship with students is unsatisfactory.
The Student as an Individual
All students from kindergarten through grade 12—whether they are quiet, docile students or discipline problems—want their school to care about them. They want their teachers and principal to convey interest in them as individuals. How well the school fosters an “I-care-for-you” feeling with its students will go a long way in helping the individual develop a healthy attitude toward learning and a positive approach when he or she discusses the school in the community.
Often the organizational nature of the school system tends to foster an impersonal relation between the school and the student. Consider the cool, impersonal characteristic of a student number, a form letter, a locker number, or an online grade report. Necessary as they may be to the proper functioning of a large school system, these impersonal relationships cannot stand alone as the only recognition of the student. They tend to reduce all students to a common denominator, whereas the students want to be treated as individuals. Needed, then, are programs and teaching methods that raise the students’ self-image and recognize their human dignity.
Respect for Personality
It has long been an accepted belief in a democracy that respect should be shown for the worth and dignity of the individual. Effective teachers subscribe to this belief because they know that it leaves its mark on the behavior of students and satisfies a human need for security. Teachers show this respect by treating serious breaches of conduct in private and by working quietly with pupils who present problems of social adjustment. Honest mistakes made by students are acknowledged pleasantly, and suggestions are offered for overcoming these mistakes in the future.
Allowance is provided in the learning process for individual differences, and tasks are assigned that can be handled successfully. In order to encourage continued work, a wise teacher acknowledges a sincere effort on the part of the students. Such teachers are not hesitant to help students to understand their own weaknesses and natural limitations, but the help is given without undermining self-confidence or injuring the student’s status in the group. The common amenities of social life are practiced, and departures from them are not permitted. Students come to feel that they are individuals in their own right and that they are each contributing to the group. Teachers who show respect for personality in these and other ways stimulate better learning and enjoy the cooperation and goodwill of the learners.
The handling of discipline plays a major role in establishing satisfactory or unsatisfactory relations with students. Effective teachers regard good discipline as a condition that is essential to good learning. When students become restless, inattentive, and annoying, teachers examine their own practices to find out if they are responsible before they reprimand the students. Experience has taught them that most students do not become restless and disruptive in the classroom when activities move along at a brisk pace, when they are being challenged, and when learning is made exciting.
Moreover, competent teachers understand the normal behavior of students at different stages of growth and development and make allowance for these in their planning. They are able to prevent situations from arising that would call for disciplinary action. Their knowledge of child growth and development equips them to make distinctions between normal behavior and symptoms of maladjustment and to refer students who show the latter to trained counselors.
Less competent teachers can make mistakes in disciplinary action, thereby placing a strain on their relations with students. One mistake is that of employing punishment freely for slight infractions of rules or failure to meet achievement standards.
Students want their teachers to be consistent in discipline. They want to know the rules and discuss them for relevancy and purpose. Students don’t like teachers to make study a punishment by imposing extra work. Students also don’t respect teachers who lose their temper; these teachers then lose their ability to solve discipline problems in a professional way. On the other hand, students respect teachers who admit they are wrong if they have treated a student unjustly.
Relations with students are changed for better or worse by the instructional practices of the teacher. Among the more crucial features are homework assignments, marks and marking systems, examinations, and guidance procedures.
Schools have traditionally followed a policy of giving students assignments of homework. A few schools do not believe in homework; nevertheless, there are those who do believe that the assignments are educationally beneficial to pupils. This policy has been generally accepted by young people and their parents.
Continuing support of the homework policy may be damaged by the introduction of such questionable practices as requiring so much homework that time is taken from children for rest and relaxation, allowing assignments to pile up unevenly, engaging children in dull and worthless copy exercises, failing to explain clearly what is expected, assigning problems that are too difficult for students, and committing the sin of not correcting and returning assignments turned in by students.
School officials should give high priority to establishing a regulation that requires consistency of assignments by all teachers. A student and his or her parents may have difficulty understanding how and why each teacher has a different set of homework rules. Thus, standardized regulations can serve to reduce criticism over the nature and amount of work involved in assignments. If criticism does arise, school officials should check its validity. It may be discovered that teachers are beginning to introduce practices that should be corrected before more serious trouble is encountered.
An intelligent parent who takes an interest in homework knows whether or not assignments are worthwhile and reasonable and will resent school officials who defend poor practices. One solution would be to invite students and parents to meet periodically with faculty members and review the whole question. This is an excellent means of preventing problems and of bringing pupils and parents closer to teachers.
Grades and Grading Systems
Grades and grading systems should be included in any examination of instructional practices because of the effect they have on student attitudes and feelings toward teachers. So much importance is attached to grades in connection with promotion, graduation, and college admission that it is natural for students to be concerned. Because their welfare is tied up in grades and grading systems, students want to know how teachers evaluate tests, written work, and special assignments and whether or not their methods are fair and impartial.
Teachers who establish fine interaction with students take full advantage of this interest. They devote as much time as necessary to the clear enumeration and discussion of factors that enter into the evaluation of tests and work submitted by students and the explanation of how these factors are weighed in arriving at the judgments expressed in terms of percentage or letter grades. Teachers are receptive to suggestions made by students for modifying and improving the grading system, recognizing that students will believe more fully in the fairness of the system if they have had a hand in devising it. These teachers recommend that the whole subject of grading be studied by members of the faculty under the direction of the principal. They are convinced from the remarks students make during their conversations with them that some standardization should prevail among the different teachers in the school. Consistency promotes confidence and faith in the grading system.
Teachers who are concerned about their interactions with students try to eliminate the tension and fear that too great a stress on marks inevitably produces. They do not want grades to be regarded as the end products of learning or the principal cause for motivating achievement. Teachers want students to look on grades and grading systems as convenient and helpful tools for understanding their own strengths and weaknesses and for guiding their efforts toward self-improvement. It has been their experience that student growth and development take place more rapidly when the progress of the learner, rather than the satisfaction of academic standards, is made the point of attention.
Examinations are generally accepted by students as a necessary part of learning. To them, examinations are a challenge that affords them the opportunity to determine how well they are doing in their classwork and where they need to improve. Seldom do students object to taking examinations that cover material they have studied. Their attitude toward examinations changes when practices are introduced that they think are unfair. Included among these practices are administering examinations for disciplinary purposes, inconsistency among teachers in methods of scoring, test items foreign to the material studied, too much concern for test results instead of their diagnostic value, and criticism for poor outcomes without attempting to discover the causes.
Although the teacher plays a major role in guidance and counseling, the student’s attitude toward the school often is affected by the guidance specialist. This member of the educational team must ensure that he or she does not convey the feeling that guidance is inquisitiveness but, rather, a kind of caring about the student. Many times when students feel they can no longer communicate with their teachers, they will expect the guidance counselor to be a good listener and one who can get a message to their teachers on their behalf. If a counselor can maintain a human approach from day to day and can provide a tangible link between the students and their school, he or she can then be of help in addressing many student needs.
Students are quick to detect the over zealousness of some counselors in getting as many students as possible into college. This is particularly true of the student who is not interested in college but rather in career education. Too often entire guidance departments have conveyed a “We-are-only-interested-in-college-bound-students” image. Consequently, many students who are not college bound can see very little help coming from such counselors. It is incumbent upon guidance departments to extend themselves to the pupils, individually or as a group, rather than to take the position of waiting until students walk into the guidance office. Guidance counselors can project a constructive image through orientation programs with entering students and through planned programs of meeting all students in small, informal discussion groups. Counselors can also improve their image by clarifying their role with the instructional staff and by placing equal emphasis on career and college education.
RELATIONS OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
Students have numerous contacts with instructional and noninstructional personnel outside the classroom. These points of contact should be considered as means of increasing friendliness and cooperation between students and members of the staff.
The library is one point of contact where students form definite opinions of schools. The nature of their opinions varies with the personality of the individual in charge and the services they receive. A librarian who greets pupils with a smile, chats cheerfully, and tries to understand their needs sets an entirely different tone from one who gives short answers, shows impatience, and demands observance of minor regulations. In some schools, the library is associated with the instructional media or instructional resource center in which a number of learning devices and resources are housed. This arrangement increases student–librarian contacts and makes the librarian’s role even more important.
The protection of a child’s health is now an established part of the school program. School board policies and state laws require that students be examined periodically by physicians, nurses, dentists, and other specialists and that they receive first-aid treatment and care for sudden illness.
How medical personnel handle their contacts with students and parents is important in building good community relations. Nothing wins praise more quickly than the tactful and efficient administration of medical services and a high degree of personal interest in children needing corrective and remedial attention. Unless medical personnel are sensitive to their legal parameters and their community relations opportunities, they may handle child and parent contacts poorly.
It is surprising how many times in a school year students have occasion to visit the school office. Every time they enter the office they have contact with staff members. If they receive courteous treatment and their business is handled efficiently, the office ranks high in their estimation. However, if the students feel, for instance, that secretaries think of themselves as assistant principals, they do not welcome students, or they make them wait unnecessarily to see the principal, pupils’ feelings about the office staff weaken good internal communications.
School cafeterias exist for the benefit of students and the convenience of staff members, not for the accumulation of profits. In this respect, they may be thought of as service agencies having the function of preparing and distributing wholesome meals. The extent to which they fulfill this function determines how they are appraised by students. Perhaps no other agency outside the classroom undergoes a more careful scrutiny than does the food-service and nutrition program.
It would be beneficial to all concerned if the director of food services made efforts to communicate with the students, discussing the various aspects of food preparation and explaining why certain food can or cannot be served. Often, in establishing communications with students the food-service director will uncover helpful suggestions for improving the food service.
Relations between students and custodial personnel who are responsible for the physical conditions of the building and grounds should be examined. Although these men and women who perform cleaning and maintenance services have no direct jurisdiction over students, they sometimes assume this authority and treat students who disobey their orders with shouts, abusive language, and even rough handling. Resentment against abusive treatment may be expressed by marking walls, plugging lavatory facilities, and scattering paper on floors. This condition is disruptive of the unity sought in a school and should be prevented.
The possibilities for conflict between students and custodial personnel can be reduced and usually eliminated if thought is given to the problem. The solution should start with the employment of individuals who have social intelligence. The limits of their authority should be defined clearly and procedures outlined for reporting students who violate regulations. Such personnel should be made to feel a responsibility for the success of the school and should realize it is their job to earn the goodwill and respect of students.
In school districts that have their own transportation fleet, the bus drivers are in a unique position to influence students’ thinking. Students do not regard bus drivers in quite the same way as they do other members of the staff, and they talk freely in the driver’s presence about their teachers and the school. In the course of a year, a driver can learn a great deal about the school and how students appraise it. Competent bus drivers who regard themselves as members of the staff can be exceedingly helpful in correcting students’ false statements and explaining reasons for policies and practices students do not like. Drivers are in a special position to listen to their complaints, discuss their problems, and bring out facts students might not consider. Drivers’ services in interpreting the school to students and reporting their attitudes to the principal can be invaluable.
STUDENTS AND INTERNAL COMMUNITY RELATIONS
The school itself consists of many internal publics, and the students constitute the most important internal group. As such, students should be given a chance to become involved in the entire internal educational community by making suggestions and participating in school planning. This is particularly true in the secondary school, where students want to be considered as contributing members of the school family.
Until recently educators traditionally used a one-way method of communicating with the students, either from the principal to the student or from the teacher to the student. Announcements were made over the loudspeaker in homerooms, at assembly programs, by written memo, or in the classroom through lectures. The students were to be “seen and not heard.” They were talked “to” and not “with,” for in the judgment of many educators they had very little to offer by way of suggestions about their school programs or their school life. Out of such an environment student activism emerged, and the traditional method of communicating with students was revealed as lacking effectiveness. In fact, this one-way method contributed greatly to the rise of student militancy, since students were neither kept informed nor given answers to legitimate questions, and they were also denied an opportunity to contribute ideas to the school.
One of the most effective methods of communicating with students, particularly at the junior and senior high-school level, is a two-way structure enabling them to express opinions, make suggestions, and offer constructive criticism on various aspects of school. At the same time, they learn more about school policies and procedures, staff duties, and responsibilities. Such two-way communications can be accomplished through student advisory committees, student opinion surveys, student town meetings, and ombudspersons.
Student Advisory Committees
Some schools have developed excellent programs of two-way communications with students at the secondary level by restructuring the student council and perhaps even changing and formalizing its name—for example, Student Advisory Group or Student Advisory Committee. Successful administrators will see to it that all students are eligible for election to the group regardless of grades or discipline problems. Good administrators know that they must structure some type of student advisory group to hear the voices of all students. Here is where the democratic system must work at its best. The principal meets with the students periodically, listens to their suggestions, and grants their wishes when common sense dictates that they should be granted. He or she always explains the reasons for decisions. These committees become a two-way communications process whereby student leaders come to understand the problems of the principal, and the principal comes closer to the student body.
The student advisory committee does have many good ideas and is often helpful to the principal in a time of crisis. Its members can squelch rumors among its constituency and in turn reduce inflammatory rumors in the community. The key to success for this type of communication is the credibility of the principal, who naturally must “tell it like it is” and be truthful with the students.
Student Opinion Surveys
Student advisory committees do provide some amount of feedback from the students. However, a sound internal community relations program also calls for direct information from the students concerning their feelings about the school. One of the most common ways of getting this direct feedback is through a survey or questionnaire.
Some schools have developed a functional student opinion survey for high school students. It asks student opinions about report card grades, class procedures, extracurricular activities, changes in school plant and procedures, courses, weaknesses, rules and regulations, student government, counseling, teacher attitude, and study halls, among other topics.
When students participate in such a survey, they assume that the results will be shared with them or some action will be taken by the school to implement suggestions. If the survey is filed away and nothing is done with the information, the school’s credibility with students is weakened. A major consideration, therefore, in planning a student survey is the disposition of the findings. Prior to administering the survey, students should be informed that a summary of the results will be shared with them, and valid suggestions will be implemented.
Student Town Meetings
Student town meetings can be in the form of a student assembly in which all students have an opportunity to participate. Such assemblies are similar to the traditional assembly programs except that there is no performer or guest speaker or musical program. Instead, it is the students’ town meeting, in which teachers and administrators ask for student thoughts, criticisms, and ideas. Some meetings are held after school hours for the entire student body, or they can be held during school hours in small groups on the grade level or in each classroom.
The concept of the ombudsperson has merit in a school if an administrator is committed to developing feedback from students about the school procedures, staff, programs, or facilities. Students can confide in the ombudsperson without fear of recrimination. Often students are reluctant to talk to teachers or counselors for fear they will be reported to the principal or other school officials. The ombudsperson then becomes a communicator, facilitating the circular flow of information between school officials and students. Whoever fills this position must gain the confidence of students to make the system function.
When student activism erupts into unrest or violence, unfavorable publicity generally results for the school. Citizens begin pointing an accusing finger at the local educational system or begin classifying all students as an unappreciative new generation. When student unrest has reached the point of actual violence, it is usually too late to resolve the crisis immediately. Instead, school officials have to weather the situation until emotions become less charged.
Why Students Rebel
Frustration is the primary reason for most student unhappiness and unrest. Although frustration is part of life and cannot be eliminated entirely, it should be avoided when it has the potential to pierce the very heart of a student’s self-esteem and personal dignity. Many times teachers and administrators nurture frustration by showing a lack of love or respect for the students as individuals; by applying rigid rules without considering circumstances; by not providing an opportunity for every child to experience success in the classroom; by not permitting students to be heard; by overburdening students with demands beyond their ability; by not providing good channels of communication with school officials and with other student groups; or by not seeking student input at various decision-making levels of the school system, particularly in junior and senior high schools.
Students are looking for well-defined channels in a school through which their influences can be felt. When there are no such channels or when these are not clearly defined, frustration often sets in, and a protest is not uncommon. The students’ protest is an attempt to prove their importance and to say that they want to participate. They want to be heard and to present their ideas and suggestions. If students are given an opportunity to be heard and to be involved and if the school officials and the staff can convey the idea that they do care about the students, unrest and destructive activism can be minimized.
Channels of Influence
Much of what has been presented in this chapter has been addressed to the idea of providing channels of influence for students. Many of the ideas presented, if implemented, could alleviate or prevent student unrest. However, three additional areas are relevant: diversity committees, student involvement in the community, and student communications. These are all helpful in minimizing student unrest.
Poor communication among students themselves, ironically, can be a source of student unrest. This can surface as racial or ethnic conflict or conflict between cliques or “in” groups and “out” groups. Much of the conflict spills into the school from society itself, where ethnic groups have drawn battle lines for years. All students want to be recognized by school officials and by other students. They want to be recognized for what they are, their customs, their ethnic backgrounds, and their culture. As long as student groups within a school cannot relate these cultural and ethnic characteristics to one another or do not have an opportunity to learn about another ethnic group, the chances are great for misunderstanding and for rumors to develop and fester.
When potentially abrasive situations are possible among diverse groups in a school system, ample time during the day should be provided for students to come together in a meaningful way for solving their problems. A diversity subcommittee of the student government can often serve as a functional group to provide constructive dialogue between two factions and to serve as a logical vehicle to develop meaningful understanding of different customs and cultures. Often these diversity or human relations committees with representatives from each class and each diverse group can identify racial problems, suggest solutions, hold forums for all responsible opinions, advise curriculum committees on including the history of various ethnic groups, advise school officials on racial matters, and hold discussion sessions between diverse groups so that each comes to understand the other better.
In its publication, Diversity Communications Toolkit, the National School Public Relations Association notes:
The issue of diversity engagement is not some other school district’s issue. Large or small; urban, suburban or rural; with or without a public relations staff or plan, the issues of diversity engagement are present in every school district in America.
The challenges that school districts face can surface in any area where students and families are different from the dominant culture: based on disability, sexual orientation, gender, religion, nationality, language, race or ethnicity and many other differences.
Because of these differences, traditional public relations (PR) approaches may not be most effective.
As an example, any research conducted to develop communications strategies should be adjusted to fit the best communication methods for each community.8
STUDENT INVOLVEMENT IN THE COMMUNITY
In many schools, students’ thirst for action goes beyond the talking and listening stages, particularly when the issues are social and political injustices in society. Students’ concern for their fellow humans often takes the form of direct action to alleviate human suffering in the areas of poverty, ignorance, hunger, pollution, housing, or health. They become frustrated when action is not taken; consequently, they may become restless and strike out at the academic establishment because they cannot gain a sense of satisfaction by working for their ideals.
Student interest in solving political and social problems can be a positive force, especially in secondary school. Authorities on student activism claim that one of the best ways of meeting students’ thirst for action is for the school to offer meaningful and worthwhile activities for community involvement and service. Such activities can include many school-coordinated community service programs, such as fund-raising campaigns for less fortunate citizens, suggested proposals to eliminate pollution and to protect the environment, tutoring programs for migrant workers’ children, work in hospitals and nursing homes, public opinion surveying, recreation programs in housing projects, voluntary work with welfare agencies, and other activities that show a concern for human welfare and justice.
Not only do community activities channel student unrest toward constructive outlets, but such activities also relate the students’ education more directly to social and political problems of concern to them. Furthermore, student concern and involvement in the community often help improve communications among students, between students and teachers and administrators, and between the school and the community. Not to be overlooked is the amount of goodwill generated by such community service. The aid of faculty members and community advisers is often needed to coordinate student involvement in the community.
In addition, when the classroom is extended beyond the walls of the building, the community becomes a laboratory for learning. Students have an opportunity to brush against reality, develop further sensitivities to social needs and problems, and acquire a deeper sense of civic responsibility. The community by-products of students’ study and involvement in the community are increased public confidence in the abilities of these young people, a better understanding of the educational program, and a willingness to support the school system more generously.
Schools have learned that students will make their views known even when the school officials haven’t asked for them. If students are not given an opportunity to express themselves in a school paper, particularly in secondary schools, they will often resort to an underground press and social media. Such activities have been nightmares for those administrators who have not provided students with a channel for self-expression. The delicate task of school officials in this matter lies somewhere between permitting absolute freedom of expression and a totally censored publication that does not represent student thinking. A middle road is needed, giving expression to students’ ideas but in words that are acceptable to the community.
Some school systems have established a school communications committee that is helpful in setting guidelines of responsible communication and in developing a relevant learning experience for students in school publications and other communication activities. The committee is made up of students, faculty members, parents, and citizens from the community, some of whom may be members of the local media or adults with experience in journalism and communication. Such a committee can be helpful as an advisory group to the principal or to a school board if necessary. With the presence of students and laypersons on the committee, dissident students are more apt to accept the committee’s recommendations and suggestions as not coming directly from the principal. Such a committee will eliminate the feeling on the part of students that all school communications are under the thumb of the school administration or faculty adviser.
The top administrator in your school district, speaking to principals, states, “Just remember that teachers and other employees care about two things: their salaries and benefits.” If you were secure in your position, what would you counsel this administrator privately about this statement? What suggestions would you make to the administrator regarding sharing information about what employees want on the job?
You’ve just been named public relations director for a fairly large school district. You have discovered that the 2,000-student high school is fraught with a lack of staff morale. What would you do to try to improve staff morale?
The difference between one school district and another in terms of quality is frequently the number and quality of ideas being generated by employees. What three techniques would you share to encourage employees to suggest ideas that would improve the schools?
List some of the reasons why school communicators might want to focus less on traditional public relations approaches for diverse audiences and perhaps more on developing communication strategies designed to fit the best communication methods for each community.
Why is it important that support staff (secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, etc.) know their roles in the public relations process? How can these internal audiences influence a school system’s external public relations efforts?
Bagin, Don, and Anthony Fulginiti, Practical Relations Theories and Practices That Make a Difference. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2006.
Belilos, Claire, Understanding Employee Drives and Motivation—The First Step towards Motivation at Work. Vancouver, BC: CHIC Hospitality Consulting Services, 2003. www.easytraining.com/motivation.htm.
Broom Glen M., and Bey-Ling Sha, Effective Public Relations, 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2012.
Hughes, Larry W., and Don W. Hooper, Public Relations for School Leaders. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2000.
National School Public Relations Association, School Public Relations, 2nd ed. Rockville, MD: Author, 2007.
National School Public Relations Association, Diversity Communications Toolkit. Rockville, MD: Author, 2013.
Weaver, Richard L., II, and Saundra Hybels, Communicating Effectively, 10th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2011.
Wilcox, Dennis L., and Glen T. Cameron, Public Relations Strategies and Tactics, 10th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2011.
1. Thomas J. Sergiovanni, Paul Kelleher, Martha M. McCarthy, and Frederick M. Wirt, Educational Governance and Administration, 5th ed. (Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 2004), p. 71.
3. NetMBA Business Knowledge Center, “Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory (Two Factor Theory).” Retrieved September 1, 2014, from http://www.netmba.com/mgmt/ob/motivation/herzberg
4. Thomas J. Sergiovanni and Fred O. Carver, The New School Executive, A Theory of Administration, 2nd ed. (New York, NY: Harper and Row, 1980), p. 104. Also see Thomas J. Sergiovanni, The Principalship, A Reflective Practice Perspective, 2nd ed. (Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1991), pp. 242–243; and Thomas J. Sergiovanni, Moral Leadership: Getting to the Heart of School Improvement (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1992), pp. 59–60.
5. Taken from Susan M. Heathfield, “What People Want from Work: Motivation.” Retrieved September 2, 2014, from http://humanresources.about.com/od/rewaredrecognition/a/needs_work.htm
6. David Sirota, Louis A. Mischkind, and Michael Irwin Meltzer, The Enthusiastic Employee (Philadelphia, PA: Wharton School Publishing, 2005).
7. Pat Jackson, pr reporter, vol. 39, no. 20 (May 13, 1996), p. 1.
8. National School Public Relations Association, Diversity Communications Toolkit
Read Ch. 7 of The School and Community Relations.
Consider the following:
- 1. How will you foster communication between teachers, classified staff, students, and administrators?