Last spring, in preparation for this huge undertaking – transforming teaching and learning for our school and pyramid – we visited other districts to learn from the work they’d done. We had conversation after conversation with people in all roles in these districts and schools.
One of the bits of advice we heard over and over and over as we visited other school districts and talked with other folks – both central office and school based, was to be as transparent as possible. I remember one person telling us to be more transparent than feels comfortable and I thought about that long and hard as we started this journey. (I wish I could remember who said this! If it was you, please let me know so I can give you credit!!)
Being open and honest and sharing before we were even asked the questions has been our mode of communicating with our staff, community and students. We’ve even taken this stance as our policy of providing feedback to those in the county supporting our transformation of teaching and learning.
Before we were even chosen for this initiative, my principal and I met with various groups of teachers, explaining the work as we saw it. We held mini-faculty meetings to have some smaller discussion groups and answering questions.
Starting right after we were selected as the pyramid to start this work, we started sending emails to our community every other week, increasing to every week during our summer distribution. These emails were important to answer questions we’d received, share information, and even describe challenges. Every email that goes out includes an update, tips and challenges.
Describing the challenges is important. This is not easy work and we are doing it first in our district. There are bumps in the road…and being honest with families and staff is incredibly important. Often times, the established practice is only to share the good things while we work on smoothing out the bumps. I think a HUGE piece of our success and support is that we were honest that everything didn’t go perfectly.
We started sharing some of the work we were doing on social media – this has been a way for us to communicate and share the great things happening in our school and in our classrooms. We want our students, community and staff to see this is more than just making a powerpoint into a google slides presentation, or turning a scantron quiz into a google form. We want our community to see that we are really doing NEW things that weren’t possible before we had our technology at our fingertips.
We’ve heard feedback from parents and students who have overwhelmingly been in support of the sharing. Several families have said that our transparency and openness to answer questions has made the difference in their support of this instructional transformation.
Continuing to send these updates is important to us. At this point, we have slowed to once every few weeks for our emailed updates. We are continuing to post social media updates and you can follow along with our hashtags #ChantillyPride and #FCPSon