A recent Harvard business Review blog post by Micah Solomon titled, What's New About Serving Customers (and What's Not), offers a few very good suggestions that schools should consider. The article describes three "new" ideas.
1. "Social media has empowered customers. Respect and work with that power, not against it."
2. "Customers expect companies to share their burdens."
3. "Your customers demand their right to serve themselves."
Each of these three has implications for interacting with students and families.
1. Be easy to reach and respond quickly. As a general rule, I suggest answering emails within 24 hours - even if your response is to acknowledge that you received the message and will be in touch again soon. In addition, adopting a FRITR (friendly, reliable, interactive, trustworthy, responsive) philosophy to communication is highly effective.
2. Turning in assignments, reminders about upcoming deadlines, posting assignment details/instructions on the web, etc. may seem to some as "doing the work that responsible students should do" but actions such as these should be discussed in light of best practices. These burdens also set up a clear partnership with students with a focus on producing an educated body of work, which is different than the more traditional "you vs. them" relationship that promotes the student as a receiver of an education.
3. Intentionally bringing autonomy and choice into the classroom allows students to take ownership of their work. Helping to guide them to connect previous knowledge and/or interests with the current theme of the class also brings a degree of "self-service" into the equation. In addition, helping students articulate their own vision of success provides a better benchmark for effort and support.
For more suggestions on school communication, check out my Paying Attention lens.