Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Communicating Effectively with Administrators

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Communicating Effectively with Administrators

Article excerpt

We need to make the case for our services. No one else will do it for us.

Administrators are the most influential stakeholders affecting school psychologists' role and effectiveness. Not only do they hold the purse strings on increasingly tight budgets, but they also can be essential to attaining buy-in for programs or initiatives from staff in a school building or district. Consider the following tips for communicating with administrators to ensure that your outreach is efficient and effective. Keep in mind that many of the issues to consider and strategies outlined also are appropriate for school board members, another key stakeholder group with regard to budgeting and district priorities.

General Communications Strategies

Calling Card Tactics are universal outreach strategies to increase visibility, raise awareness, improve collaboration, create an environment for stakeholder buy-in, and help you become a change agent in your school district. Many of these strategies can be directed at staff and parents as means of improving understanding of and support for your work within the broader school community, which in turn can help frame how administrators view you.

* Activities: writing school newsletter articles, having morning coffee with administrators, distributing parent handouts, creating a professional website, holding brown-bag discussions with staff.

* Consider creating a short monthly or quarterly newsletter for staff updating them on issues or initiatives on which school psychologists in the district are working. Include useful tips, if possible, and data on how students are benefiting. Distribute a handout to parents on a related issue. Send a copy of the newsletter to your local school board members as an FYI.

Action Requests identify a specific need within the school or district that you can help address (e.g., implementing new programs, preserving effective programs, redistributing existing resources)

* Activities: holding meetings with decision makers, conducting surveys or needs assessments, collecting and analyzing data, presenting at school board/administrative team meetings, collaborating with allied colleagues, building coalitions with allied professionals, conducting inservice trainings.

* Consider offering to conduct a needs assessment to help address a concern of your administrator's. Be prepared to present the data in an easy to understand format and make specific suggestions on how to address the issue.

Crisis Communication- strategies directed toward protecting or defending challenges to reputation or status. In early 2009, NASP embarked on a crisis communication campaign to help school psychologists protect their positions within shrinking district and state budgets.

* Activities: testifying before school boards or budget committees; defending the need for specific programming to administrators in meetings.

* Consider getting your crisis plan together now. Don't wait until the crisis occurs. Establish a team (know who knows decision-makers best, who is a good writer, who is an effective speaker/presenter, who has data). Identify possible data needs and start collecting. Develop key messages. And don't forget that you will be much better positioned to address a potential crisis if you have increased your visibility and built positive relationships through effective Calling Card and Action Request outreach over time.

Remember: Exercise Your Data Muscle!

Data is a valuable commodity for administrators, both in understanding a problem and in demonstrating a need and/or progress toward goals. It is also critical to making your case in almost every instance. School psychologists are the best equipped professionals in the building to collect and interpret data. …

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