That is the staple quote for every Elvis impersonator on the planet – a tribute to the King’s well-documented habit of thanking his audience for applause. It’s a lesson we all could learn from the man from Memphis.
When’s the last time someone from your school district said, “Thank you” to a patron? An average patron ponies up thousands and thousands of dollars over a lifetime supporting his or her local school district. Yet I doubt most have ever heard the words “Thank you” from a district staff member, teacher or student for this investment.
What an opportunity! What if every school district employee made it his or her personal goal to say, “Thank you” to a random district patron today?
It would give immediate substance to the idea that “education is a partnership,” would offer meaningful, long-term, brand-building benefits for the district, and would create the kind of environment that increases the likelihood of success for ballot measures – no matter what the economic climate.
Try it and let us know what happens. Hey, it worked for Elvis.
However, there is no better time during the school year then Back-to-School Night to engage with your parents and maximize the opportunity to build strong relationships. And it’s an absolutely ideal time to mine some great data from this key audience.
You don’t need to do anything elaborate. Just simply ask your parents to take one minute to answer three questions on a survey that can be handed out to every person that night.
Question one: What would you like to know more about from your school and the school district this year?
This is a great way to find out whether the topics you deem to be the most important to communicate align with what your parents want to know most about.
Question two: What’s the best way to get that information to you?
The answers you receive, such as email, text, newsletter, etc., probably won’t add much to how you are already communicating with your parents. But they should help you determine the frequency of each communication method and which ones are most popular with your audience.
Question three: What’s the one topic you really would like us to not talk about so much (because you’re not all that interested)?
You probably will receive a lot of “I don’t know” responses. However, you might be pleasantly surprised by the candor of the people who are tired of hearing about the same topics – those only the district finds exciting.
At the bottom of the survey, promise you will get a summary of the findings back to all parents. And make it clear to your building folks to tell parents that “If you’ve already filled this out in one school, there’s no need to fill out a second one.”
Then, create a simple process where you can tally key words from the surveys, like “test scores,” “finances” and “School Board decisions.” Don’t sort through the long-winded ones; just look for key words.
If you make it a practice to do this every year at Back-to-School Night, you will be able to stay current with parent interests and transmittal preferences.
In our June 5th blog post (scroll below), we discussed a survey being conducted by the Rolla (Mo.) Public Schools. This is part two of that article.
Rolla wanted to “check in” with community members and get a read on their level of satisfaction with the district’s performance and its delivery of the promised projects on the last bond issue.
A random sample of 375 area heads of households was contacted via telephone, producing statistically reliable data that has an industry standard 5 percent Margin of Error. To make certain those who wished to comment were not left out, a companion online survey was made available through the district’s website and promoted actively. A total of 249 individuals completed this survey, meaning more than 600 people expressed their opinion between the phone and online surveys.
The news was very positive: The community continues to think very highly of the people, programs and facilities, and it feels a real sense of belonging, as you read the evaluations of the district/patron relationship factors.
In terms of the bond issue, there were plenty of good marks for the district on keeping its promises made during the campaign, keeping the community informed along the way and delivering high-quality facilities.
The only slight blemish? They want more communication – a common call among school district patrons, and further proof of a saying of Patron Insight, “If you think you have told the community about something often enough, the answer is always ‘No.’”