Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Power of Communication

My little countdown clock to the beginning of the first day of school seems to be moving faster and faster.  In just over a week the hallways of OHS will once again resonate with the sounds of young minds being challenged and expanded.  This week I eagerly anticipate Thursday as our entire faculty returns to once again roll up our sleeves and take on the challenge embodied in the Okoboji Community Schools mission statement.

Over the course of my career I have learned many things.  One of the foremost of these is the power of communication.  The ability to communicate is critical to success in any position of leadership.  Good communication can keep people moving in the same direction, create and sustain a common vision of the future, and prevent or minimize misunderstandings and other problems along the way.  A lack of communication can create confusion, resentment, and resistance.  As I prepared for my transition into this new role I set several goals for myself in terms of communication.  A couple of my goals in the area of communication are:

  • To meet with each stakeholder that works in the building individually to see our school through their eyes.  What they see as strengths, where they see potential for improvement, and what they view as their role in accomplishing our mission.
  • To regularly communicate with stakeholders outside of the building through a variety of means.  This includes mass and individual emails, meetings, phone calls, and blogging. 
I started my Okoboji High School blog at 10:05pm on June 25th with a post introducing myself and our family to anyone who might be listening.  At first I was sure that number would be very small.  In fact one of the lines in my first post was

"Since this is my first post and it is not yet the first of July, right now I am certainly writing to an audience of one...myself.  However, in the future I hope that this becomes a place for stakeholders of the Okoboji High School to gain information and insights regarding our school."

I hoped that awareness and interest in this method of communication would grow over time and eventually the time I was investing would pay some dividend in terms of increasing communication between myself and the stakeholders of OHS.  And it did...much faster than I had anticipated.  As I sit here, less than two months later, writing my 7th post I am amazed to see the hit counter at the bottom of my blog topping 900 views.  I have been impressed before at the power of social media but once again it has surprised me.  At this rate, by the time I actually get to meet most students for the first time, on the first day of school, this blog will have been visited over 1000 times.  Those are 1000 opportunities to communicate with people integral to the mission of our school that would not have happened without this medium.  Throughout the summer and especially last week at registration I had a number of people introduce themselves.  I was very surprised by how often, "nice to meet you" was followed by "I've been following your blog all summer!"  I have even had students mention that they have been reading.  What an awesome way to get to know each other and share ideas.

So as I celebrate the climb toward 1000 hits I feel the need to raise the stakes and kick it up a notch.  Although many have come here to read, few have come here to participate.  Only on rare occasions have people left comments.  Most of those came last week after my post on making homework, schoolwork and the comments were wonderful!  Blog communication is great but it can be even more powerful if it is not one-directional.  So I challenge you.  If I say something that sparks thought in your head, let me know!  If I say something with which you whole-heartedly agree, let me know!  If I say something that you think is ridiculous hogwash, let me know that too!  (politely of course :-))  Challenge my thinking as I hope I am challenging yours.

Thank you for being a part of this journey so far and I look forward to see where it and the year before us take us all!

1 comment:

  1. I really like the idea of using multiple methods of communication to "keep people moving in the same direction, create and sustain a common vision of the future, and prevent or minimize misunderstandings and other problems along the way." The idea that "vision leaks" from Bill Hybels--Leader of Willow Creek Church in Chicago--is so true in every organization. With your multiple forms of communication you have helped to not only communicate your vision of learning but to keep it in the forefront of the minds of all stakeholders. The unique thing about this media is people can participate instantly by responding and giving you insight into their thinking. The potential is here for powerful, meaningful, and reciprocal communication!!