Perception is reality to that person.
Public perceptions of our schools, whether real or perceived, are vitally important to the livelihood of our schools and school corporations. You know this to be true from your experiences speaking with disgruntled parents on the phone, overhearing the uniformed school patron spouting off at the ballpark, reading scathing comments on social media sites, or sometimes even dispelling ugly rumors within your own staff. In any case communication is key; succinct, professional, timely, and accurate communication.
The 47th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll published September 2015 again reveals that schools closest to home get the highest grades, the ones nationally, the lowest. Perceptions are real, and positive ones can help while negative perceptions can have negative consequences on your schools. When you think about it aren’t schools built on effective communication? Teachers communicating curriculum with students. Students problem solving with other students. Principals informing their parents about school events. And so on. In this digital age I encourage you to not lose sight of the fact that communication is 7% words, 38% tone/inflection, and 55% nonverbal/visual. A recent Nielsen Survey shows that the public tends to believe magazine/newspaper/TV ads 60% of the time, but word of mouth and other forms of earned advertising: 84%. Our parents, teachers, staff, community leaders are our best sources for increasing the positive public perception of our schools.
As the leaves continue to fall and the legislative session begins to heat up, let’s focus on telling our positive stories and quite possibly influence positive perceptions of Indiana’s schools. As superintendents, let’s lead that charge.
All my best to you,
Scott Hanback, IAPSS President
Dr. Scott D. Hanback
Tippecanoe School Corporation
21 Elston Road
Lafayette, IN 47909