Wednesday, 23 January 2013

WELCOME! Branding Our School

What do you think about when you see some of the logos above? 

More importantly: What do people think about when they see your school logo?

When I was asked I immediately thought about asking parent and students how they see our 'brand'. After some reflection I began to realize that it starts with the school. This led to the following questions:
  • What do you want parents and students to think about our school?
  • What do we do to make our brand one that is attractive to parents in our school community?
  • Have you had the discussion with your staff about how we want our school to be see in the community?
Since this week is the official Kindergarten Registration week, I have been thinking a lot about how new parents see our school. Last week we had a work shop at the school board to talk about our school brand and creating a welcoming environment for everyone. Not just students.

There are so many ways to create positive and powerful brand for your school each and everyday:
  1. The website and social media tell a lot about the school. Keep them updated!
  2. When someone comes in to the front office, are they greeted? Is it welcoming? How parents feel when they come into the front office plays a huge role in whether or not they want to send their kids to your school.
  3. Answering the phone - Can they hear a smile on the end of the line or does it sound like they have interrupted something? 
  4. How fast are you at returning phone calls and emails to parents?
  5. What do your newsletters look like? Do they come out on time and at the start of each month?
  6. What kind of progressive discipline policy does the school have?
  7. As an administrator, are you visible to your school community?

What matters most is "Who are you?"

If you have a positive brand for your school in your community the benefits are enormous. There is a connection with parents and they will be inspired knowing that you are making your school the most welcoming place you can. Those connections you made, they will go out and spread the word.

My goal this "Kindergarten Season" is to make a personal connection with every parent that comes into our school to register their child or to inquire about our school. I personally meet and talk with each one and invite them to contact me if they have any questions whatsoever. 

Is anyone else working extra hard to make connections with their community and to build relationships? I'd be interested in collaborating and brainstorming ideas.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Fish Naming Ceremony Turns into a Learning Experience

You never know what is going to happen when you try something new. 

Not too long ago I decided to buy another fish for my office. I don't know what happened. Usually I have a fish to start off the year, but this year my office space was totally fish-less. 

With fish ownership comes the great responsibility of naming the fish. Normally someone would choose a name for me. This time I decided on another approach.

I created a Google Forms survey:

What happened over the course of the week was totally unexpected. Students were talking about this survey  everywhere in the school. It be came a learning experience where I least expected it. Often, these are the best kinds of learning experiences.

I announced the survey on the Monday and told the students that they would have until Friday morning to submit their response for the fish.

Over the course of the week it was very interesting to see how the results were shaping up. Early on it was the primary students that were voting for their favourite choice: Mr. Bubbles. Once the Junior students got involved the results and the survey really began to take off. OK ........ the results were getting tampered with by our Junior students. This lead to some interesting conversations in the staffroom.

In the end:

  • 1652 votes were cast in a school with a population of 305
  • Sushi was the name that ended up finishing with the most votes
Learning Implications:
  • there were many opportunities for purposeful talk in class, at home and in the hallways and school yard
  • students were learning about Data Management and were interpreting information in a way that did not even seem like school work
  • students who were never exposed to google forms had the opportunity to use them from JK - Gr. 6
  • parents had the opportunity to get involved in this survey with their children
  • teachers in the classroom had the opportunity to use google forms. If they had never used them before it was a great opportunity for them to try something new.
A next step for myself is to use google form in a survey that will go out to parents on our website. I think this will be a great way to communicate with parents and to get a feel on what they are thinking on different topics that are important to our school.