Have you ever discussed or thought about the importance of two-way communication in education? Should we consider how we communicate? First, we should consider what kind of communication we are using now. Second, we should ask ourselves how we can better communicate. Third, is it worth communicating more or differently? So before you continue reading take 15 minutes and reflect on communication, two-way communication and how you know it is effective? How can educators ensure two-way communication is effective? What would it mean for our kids, parents and our community?
This is a re-blog post by Ron B. Rogers and published with kind permission.
The original post can be found here.
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Two-way communication always includes feedback from the receiver to the sender and lets the sender know the message has been received accurately. In two-way communication, communication is negotiated. Both sender and receiver listen to each other, gather information and willing to make changes to work together in harmony to reach a mutually satisfactory situation. So take a few minutes and reflect on the communication you practice.
Why is two-way communication important? Student success is higher when teachers, parents and students are collaborating using a team approach according to research (Bitsko, 2006). This is great to know however if teachers, parents and students are not collaborating this has the opposite effect. It means students have less overall success in school. The lack of two-way communication is the culprit for the lack of collaboration. Two-way communication has to be the first step toward collaboration and eventually strong relationships. Parents, students, principals and teachers understand and want strong relationships (Vance 2015). However, according to Foster (2015)
“There is a significant communication gap between the public, parents, and schools” (p. 35).
One fact is that teachers do not come from the same neighborhoods as the students. They don’t talk the same language. In other words, the students are from poverty and the teachers are from middle to upper-class neighborhoods. Communication doesn’t happen so relationships cannot happen. Public school districts face difficulties in communicating with parents even when they try in a collaborative effort.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the law of the land and it will govern where the money will be focused on our schools and judged. It specifically says: S. 1177-70 (5)(D)
‘‘ensuring regular two-way, meaningful communication between family members and school staff, and, to the extent practicable, in a language that family members can understand.’’
This means that districts have to take further steps to use two-way communication. Districts in the past always pushed information out to parents, grandparents or guardians, however the districts did not have any expectation of receiving communication back from them. In other words, districts will need to show how they are using two-way communication. Since ESSA is new and not implemented yet or even defined by the Federal or State Departments of Education we do not know the exact expectations. Maybe this will lead to improved family-engagement.
So in conclusion, think about the collaborative or non-collaborative environment you work while reflecting on the quality of two-way communication. How is ESSA going to affect your district, schools, parents and students?
Bitsko, S., Phipps, D., & Barnheiser, M. (2006). Parent Involvement: Strategies for Success. University of Dayton. Pg. 2.
Foster, A. (2015). PDK/GALLUP POLL: When answers mean more questions. Education Digest, 80(6), 35.
Vance, N. (2015). Joyce Epstein’s School-Family-Community Partnership Model. Research Starters: Education (Online Edition).