Introduction"You can never communicate enough, and you can never be overprepared."
— MaryEllen Elia (Hillsborough County Public Schools)
This guide was developed by school district leaders for school district leaders and for the state leaders who support them. Its goal is to help you communicate about changes in policies and practices affecting your teachers. With the possible exception of the Common Core State Standards, no issue requires so many changes at so many levels.
A growing number of states, districts, and public charter school organizations understand that to increase student learning they must support effective teaching. They are focusing on personalizing and strengthening supports for teachers, developing new evaluation systems to recognize and foster excellence and improvement, and creating new opportunities for teachers.
Clear, consistent, and transparent communication is critical to successful implementation of these changes. Effective communication is more than messages or messengers. It involves sharing information, getting feedback, making changes based on that input, and establishing predictability in what is inherently a continuous improvement process.
The lessons and resources come from 11 organizations funded since 2009 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as Partnership Sites to Empower Effective Teaching. Project leaders and communicators from Partnership sites have been working with each other for the past three years to share lessons and resources (see Overview of Effective Teaching Plans). This guide explains what they have been doing and why, how they have implemented their plans, and what they have learned. Perhaps most helpful, it includes dozens of practical tools and resources that other districts and charter management organizations can use or modify to support their own efforts.
Although this advice and these resources are drawn from local practices, they are relevant for state leaders and communicators as well. Indeed, because in many instances state policy changes are or will be driving local practice on these issues, it is especially important that state and local communicators be “on the same page” about how best to engage stakeholders in these changes: what they involve; why they are happening; and how they will affect educators, students, and ultimately communities.
These school systems are not alone in undertaking this important work, and we encourage others to augment this resource as new guidance emerges, with the hope that every student has access to effective teaching every day and in every class.
Download full guide (5.4 MB) or summary.