Question 2

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What is the perspective of organizations such as the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) (http://www.nais.org/) and Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS) (http://www.vais.org/) regarding communication process and systems?

There's a good article with a summary here: http://www.nais.org/about/article.cfm?ItemNumber=145195

Some points from the NAIS article

  1. Boards and heads should consider the possibilities of "open-book management": that is, a nearly complete sharing of operating data and critical information with faculty and other stakeholders.
  2. Avoid top-down communication in situations where mutual respect would suggest that a true bi-directional dialog would be more appropriate (e.g., less stump speech from head, more disclosive and solicitous).
  3. Share not only what is happening in the school, but also the thinking and rationale that lead to decisions being made in particular ways.
  4. Administrators must never presume that a majority has absorbed some information just because something appears in a newsletter or on a Website. It is vital to go out of one's way to repeat important messages in as many media as possible.
  5. Boards of trustees and heads must continuously clarify the distinction between faculty "having a voice" and "having their way"; for example, leadership should define "what's on the table" and "what's not."
  6. Leadership should define up front and give rationale for major decisions that will not be "inclusive" nor "consensus-based"
  7. All parties should tolerate a greater degree of ambiguity and occasional timing miscues, and should "cut some slack" for harried administrators
  8. Expect miscommunication and develop mechanisms for detecting rumors and clarifying misunderstandings. For example I heard a rumor today at Lacrosse practice so I promptly went to Anne Simon for clarification.

Good input! I especially resonate with Items 7 and 8. How do we establish trust and faith among stakeholders in our STU community? It is very difficult to communicate constructively when we're not confident that there is good faith and respect on all sides of the communication.

Ditto - it is extremely difficult to operate a school and deal with a global economic crisis at the same time. We should develop ways for communication opportunities to open up so that a big head of steam does not develop. Perhaps one option is a "who to ask" document. I have an example that I could share. Sally

These points seem thoughtful and reasonable. I'd like to see the "who to ask" document.
Renee

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