WHAT HAS THE EXPERIENCE OF COVID TAUGHT US ABOUT INTERNAL COMMUNICATION IN SCHOOLS?
23 Feb 2022
Internal communication isn’t something that was discussed much in schools before last year. Schools I know were mostly happy with a combination of all-staff meetings, internal memos and emails and ‘training days’ for more complex issues.
But the COVID pandemic changed things. Many ways of communicating became difficult or impossible, while clear communication became more important than ever. Here are five reflections on this change – it will be interesting to see how and if our experiences change schools for the long-term…
1. Messages are clearer than before.The idea of co-ordinating messages internally isn’t a new one, but it took on a new importance during COVID. Messages about health and safety, school closures, community support and changes to external exams required a much greater level of staff engagement with fewer opportunities to share ideas.
The result has been a significant increase in internal messaging, much greater use of online meetings for clarity and modelling likely responses, and the use of messaging applications to report feedback and ask for clarity. Hopefully this will continue, even if the messages are more mundane.
2. New staff are getting a better induction.Schools are especially busy at the start of terms, and this makes learning about new staff even more difficult. However, schools have typically introduced staff quickly in meetings and then left them to find their way around. In COVID this hasn’t been possible and it’s been great to see schools develop more comprehensive new staff profiles as well as inviting them to meetings with a wide range of staff.
3. Online meetings are more inclusive…Schools have been amazing at adopting remote teaching methods, but they’ve been equally quick to move internal meetings online. For some staff, such as those working part-time or off-site, this has meant a chance to engage with more people, attend meetings they usually missed, and even get together for online social events.
4. …but they’re also a challenge for engagement. Just as one of the major problems for online teaching (especially with teenagers!) was getting responses from students, it can be difficult to show engagement in online meetings, especially with the whole school present. Perhaps the solution is the same as with students – use of online chat and quiz applications for questions and immediate low-stakes feedback?
5. Staff wellbeing is high on the online agenda.In the COVID crisis, the idea of wellbeing has been seen as important in all parts of society, and schools have been very good at discussing the idea and surveying staff (those online quizzes have come in very useful here as well!). It has also been pleasing to see schools do more for both staff and student than just provide links to online resources, with regular personal meetings used more and more.
What has COVID changed about how your school communicates internally? Please comment below!