Online reputation has been a growing focus for schools over the last decade. Where a sporadically updated website once did the trick, the age of social media and reputation management have increased the importance we affix to digital school marketing.
But with schools closed and students at home, how can you maintain the reputation you’ve worked so hard to build?
There are some new challenges in the way, how do we tackle them?
Of course, teachers aren’t expected to work from home in their ‘teacher clothes’, but whilst professional attire isn’t required, a professional manner is still important. Especially as parents are now able to see lessons first-hand from home. A vast majority of teachers will have absolutely no problem maintaining their classroom professionalism, but as we slide past the one month at home mark, it’s easy to settle in and become a little too comfortable with home surroundings. If you’re struggling to adapt to working remotely, you’ll find helpful, actionable advice in this piece on teaching and working from home effectively.
High-quality lessons, professional conduct and good interaction with students is more important than ever in distance learning. Keeping staff motivated and raising morale is a surefire way to have them running on all cylinders under the watchful eye of parents, whilst holding morning meetings and regular catch-ups can add a little bit of consistency and normality to the home teaching life.
Home-school communication has completely changed since schools closed. It’s likely that teachers communicate from home (or their classroom) to students’ homes every day to deliver lessons and offer support. Add that to the increased newsletters, that is a necessity during these uncertain times, and that’s a whole lot of comms.
Transparency is key here.
Keeping parents and students informed about possible developments as soon you can will have them singing your praises, rather than nervously tapping their feet. Make it clear to parents how you will communicate information to them so they know where to look. Also, give them the opportunity to get in contact with the school via specific channels (online message board, dedicated phone support hours, separate email) will also show that you really do value their input during times of need.
Unified online learning
Having a unified approach to online learning not only helps to maintain a consistent school brand, but it also makes working together as a school much easier. With everyone on the same page, changes to distance learning policies are easier to roll out and lesson sharing is made possible. Having a distinctive online learning environment that students and parents recognise as an extension of school will avoid any unneeded confusion too.
Having staff use the same video streaming provider, the same online learning platform and the same resources strengthens your unified effort to give students the education they deserve despite being at home. It also ensures parents that the school is dedicated to, not just surviving lockdown, but thriving during it!
Students are perhaps the biggest marker for success. Especially now. More than 9 million workers are expected to be furloughed in the UK, as well as many more working from home. That’s a lot of parents stuck indoors with their children! If they’re disengaged, miserable or without guidance, it will be parents paying the price.
Ensuring that you are not only supporting a student’s academic study but also their mental and physical health, shows that the school really cares. Make a point of having teachers check in on students’ mental health via surveys or 1-2-1s. Set P.E homework, ideally first thing in the morning, that consists of youtube yoga or workout videos like PE with Joe.
Happy students = happy parents. Happy parents = good reputation.
Maintain your school values
Whether you have a formal school motto, written values or an unwritten ethos, every school has marketable values. It could be the school’s rich history, sporting excellence or state of the art facilities. Whatever it is, ensure that you are able to maintain these values during the lockdown.
This could be as simple as ensuring your school’s crest is on every letter you send out, making sure that social media accounts follow your school’s colour theme or assigning remote challenges to house groups.
Changes like this remind remote workers and learners that they are part of something much bigger than themselves and that, whilst they may be apart right now, their unity is something that makes them stronger. By maintaining the collectiveness and team player mindset, that’s behind every good school, students will return to classrooms that are stronger and teachers to schools that are reliable.