By Craig Perrier
Staying connected, as well as making new connections, are opportunities to share, learn, and grow with educational leaders. But, the 2020 end of the school year and summer break for educators is a bit different from what we are used to. Schools, for example, might be closing earlier than usual. Contrastingly, other systems may be offering an optional extension to the school year during the summer. Likewise, traditional summer program coordinators are revisiting and shifting their plans to provide viable digital alternatives. Finally, summer is ultimately the bridge to the next school year. For the moment, that future is as definite as an abstract painting.
Still, teaching and learning continues with new and unknown obstacles and opportunities. Considering the current circumstances, it is safe to say that educational leaders this summer will be busier than usual as they work to paint a clear scene for the fall. To continue with the painting metaphor, staying in contact with superintendents, principals, and school boards’ allows you to contribute to the palette, brushes, and studio for what will be the next school year.
Once you decide who to reach out to, the question of what to include in your communication matters. Below are five ways to make your contact with educational leaders meaningful:
- Demonstrations: Following school closure, many education providers casted a wide net and allowed free access to their service or product. However, these opportunities lacked personal connection and will most likely result in cancellations once the trial ends. Offering to provide a 1:1 demonstration of what you provide adds that valuable personal touch and attention.
- Be a Thought Partner: Connecting educational leaders is great, but being one yourself is even better. Lending your ear and voice to leaders frames your relationship as a thought partner regarding challenges the school is facing. As an advisor of sorts you can get a better idea of local obstacles and how to solve them.
- Host an Exclusive Event: With traditional conferences being put on hold, online events have increased in frequency. But all online events are not equal. Providing access to a celebrity can coincide with a pre- or post-survey with questions relevant to your services and products.
- Share how you have Changed: Education will look different after the pandemic. How is your organization leading or supporting these changes? Whatever you are doing needs to be shared so that leaders are aware not of just what you are, but of what you are becoming.
- Be Relevant: Even if you don’t know the specific challenges an educational leader is facing, common issues have emerged. Most schools are facing problems with access, equity, distance learning, and social-emotional well-being. Has your organization authored a white paper, conducted research, or been involved in case studies? If so, share that information and follow up on how these solutions can fit in their context.
Connecting with education leaders this summer will most likely face a lot of competition. Planning for that outreach involves knowing their end of the year, summer, and fall plans. But, regardless of the approach you take, it will important that you augment that message with some form of good news. Opening with a positive, whether that is a student, teacher, administrator, or community success, will stand out amidst a sea of bad news they are probably swimming in. Everyone, especially educators, need to hear more about the successes and achievements happening in our field. Plus, more often than not, people want to interact frequently with others they deem positive. Staying connected in purpose, as professionals, will only help to promote positivity.