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What are you trying to say?

June 22, 2017

There was a school in the Midwest that was at the height of their athletic achievements but somehow failed to acknowledge that internally there were serious struggles.  For two years the turnover rate for faculty was high.  Teachers were culturally divided with each other, the students and staff.  In the midst of the trophies awarded in extracurricular activities and honourable mentions, a few situations happened along the way with teacher/student conflicts.  A few female students complained of an eerie feeling they had when their teacher offered to help them or sat near them.  Another issue arose when a teacher bantered and hit somewhat bullying children in the classroom.  In both cases, the issues were subtly addressed and the students moved out of the classroom. In both cases, emails were exchanged promises were made to the parents but there were no communication strategies to 1. Keep the good reputation of the school brought by the athletic achievements and, 2. Address the crises with open, truthful and consequential communication strategies.  As a result, students were kept from the classroom, parents were kept at bay and teachers were left in the dark or to carry on with only a verbal reprimand.
The parents were left with the question, "What are you trying to say?"  The school doesn't know what to do? Is my child the problem? Are the teachers not trained? Keep it hush-hush?
The comprehensive strategy in these cases would be the following:
1. Acknowledge the facts or perceived facts.
2. Compile the information.
3. Conduct a faculty meeting presenting the facts, expecting questions from parents
4. Conduct a meeting with the parents and the faculty
5. Conduct a meeting with the parents, the child and faculty
6. Implement the solution, of getting the student and teacher back on track  with parent approval
7. Acknowledge, apologize and restore

Without, expressed intentional measures for communicating effectively in crisis situations, things can quickly get out of hand.  The turnover rate will be high for teachers and students, and regardless of negative public publicity kept at bay, word of mouth can do equal parts damage over time. 


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