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Communication Matters PRESENTERS SS36Making Your Case: Communicating Effectively With Administrators and Decision Makers in a Tough Budget Climate Andrea.

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Presentation on theme: "Communication Matters PRESENTERS SS36Making Your Case: Communicating Effectively With Administrators and Decision Makers in a Tough Budget Climate Andrea."— Presentation transcript:

1 Communication Matters PRESENTERS SS36Making Your Case: Communicating Effectively With Administrators and Decision Makers in a Tough Budget Climate Andrea Cohn, Kathy Cowan, Stacy Skalski, and Candace Dee

2 2 Goals for Today Assess the landscape and extent of budget crisis. Communicate research-tested messages to use when speaking with administrators. Identify issues related to communicating with administrators and other decision makers. Practice message development. (Activity) Be better able to facilitate communications planning with colleagues/staff. Learn about NASP communications resources.

3 Good communication increases your effectiveness and perceived value. This is critical as school budgets continue to shrink.

4 4 Three benefits to preparing your communication strategy and messages in advance: 1.Helps you target right audience with right strategies 2.Helps to organize your thoughts, maintain consistent messages 3.Easier for listeners to understand and remember

5 5 Who Recognizes Your Role in Student Success? Are you engaged at the student, classroom, building, and district levels? Who within your school community can identify you or your contributions? Are you acknowledged as essential to student success – not just the success of special needs students but of ALL students? Are decision makers on your list?

6 Why does it matter?

7 Administrators and school boards help or hinder your role, resources, effectiveness, job satisfaction and job security--particularly within the context of change.

8 8 Current Context of Change Economic climate affects both: »administrators budgets, and »stress levels for students, educators and families. Uncertainty where school psychological services fit in new Administrations priorities. Persistent confusion about or lack of awareness of our role among many stakeholders and the media. Growing emphasis on communities-in-schools (school-based health centers versus school- employed providers). APA model licensure act (removal of exemption). RTI (most significant school reform movement).

9 9 This is a critical time to promote the value of your expertise How can you meet the needs of students suffering from the economic crisis? How can you support teachers dealing with larger classes and students exhibiting stress? How can you help realign services to continue to support academic progress even with budget cuts?

10 So youre a school counselor, right?

11 11 Risks to a Stealth Profession Greatest threat: Reduced or stagnant level of SP positions/funding. Lack of understanding of unique and essential skill set among decision makers. Ineffective use of SP skills and training (e.g. return to assessment role only). Missed linkages between behavior, mental health and learning. Increased job frustration/stress. Negative effect on students. Unrecognized collaborations between SPs and the school team and external, community resources.

12 Input From Stakeholders Immediate value is a priority

13 13 Interviews Conducted With National representatives »Principals »Teachers »Parents »School boards »Other school mental health professionals »Community providers and advocates

14 14 Stakeholder Interview Feedback Administrators and school boards are our most important target audience. They set priorities in the district and hold the purse strings. Not surprisingly, the economy and budget problems dominate the concerns of administrators. They are directing resources to those programs and services that have immediate benefit to the most students.

15 15 Stakeholder Interview Feedback Respondents intuitively understand the link between mental health and learning. This general understanding alone is not enough to make it a priority for resource allocation in crunch times like this. Essentially, all professional groups are making the argument that their services and expertise relate to achievement. Therefore, this key talking point does not, and will not, necessarily differentiate us from any other educational professional group.

16 16 Stakeholder Interview Feedback Feedback sheds light on stakeholders mixed perceptions of school mental health and school psychologists. Many still envision us as working with the most intensive and severe individual students, but do not see school psychologists as impacting and being involved with larger school issues (i.e., school climate) or groups of students. Administrators need to get the biggest bang for their buck so our value is increased when we are involved in school- wide efforts.

17 17 Stakeholder Interview Feedback While some stakeholders value the unique contribution of school psychologists, many do not see school psychologists outside their special education and assessment role. More specifically, respondents who had worked closely with school psychologists in a positive problem-solving mode saw real value; those who hadnt were less clear. In some cases, special education is viewed as a special interest within the system.

18 18 Stakeholder Interview Feedback Additional resources are scarce; everyone is looking for added value in the resources they have at hand. School psychologists do a great job but often too far behind the scenes. We need to make our value and direct involvement clear to administrators and key decision makers.

19 What are barriers to communicating with administrators or other decision makers? (Take 2 minutes to write down your frustrations/barriers.)

20 No actually, I am a school psychologist. Oh… Whats that?

21 We need to make the case for our services. No one else will do it for us.

22 Effective Communication: Fostering relationships and promoting your role.

23 23 Three Types of Strategic Communications to Discuss Today Proactive Outreach Action Requests Crisis Communication

24 24 Or, In Audience-Friendly Terms Proactive Outreach Action Request Crisis Management Intensive Targeted Universal

25 25 Effective Communications Starts with proactive outreach. Proactive outreach promotes Action Requests. Anticipates and facilitates crisis communications needs.

26 26 Proactive Outreach Goals (You offer something. No strings.) Increase your visibility (with staff, parents, and administrators). Raise awareness and comfort level on an issue. Get more involved/be accessible. Improve collaboration. Disseminate useful information, especially in times of crisis. Create environment for decision-maker buy- in. Become a change agent in the school/district.

27 27 Proactive Outreach Tactics School newsletter articles. Morning coffee with school administrators. (Tip: Ask how you can help. Be flexible.) Parent handouts. Info for website. (Tip: Use the Create Your Own Website resources from NASP.) Brown-bag discussions with staff. Good to know information for district level administrators and school boards. (Tip: Double up and send a copy of your newsletter article FYI to district and/or state decision makers.)

28 28 Action Request Goals (You need and offer something.) Need »Protect role/positions***. »Program support or implementation. »Reallocation of funding for new or expanded programs. »Increased staffing. Offer (advocacy through action) »Improved collaboration/realignment of support services. »Crisis support for students and teachers. »Participate in planning/program design. »Conduct needs assessment/data collection and evaluation. »Conduct in-service training. ***Focus of todays discussion in crisis communication.

29 29 Action Request Tactics Meetings with decision makers (offer to help). Conducting surveys or needs assessments for principals. Provide data, linked to actions/solutions. School board/administrative team presentations. (Present data, needs, solutions.) Collaborating with allied colleagues on current and future job roles and functions. Coalition/relationship building with allied professionals. In-service training. (Tip: Always have a 1-2 page written summary of your information to leave with people.)

30 Crisis Communications: Protecting Your Position and Role

31 31 There are two general ways to advocate for your role at the local level: Direct advocacy Demonstrating value through action. Good communication is essential to both.

32 32 Planning Process Assess situation. Identify target audiences (NASP has done this for you). Craft messages (NASP has started this for you). »Develop relevant supporting points. Select strategies/Implementation. Evaluation/Follow-up.

33 33 Planning Process Craft Messages Identify Target Audiences Effective Communications Planning Assess Situation Select Strategies/ Implementation Evaluation/Follow-up Desired Improved Outcomes Stakeholder Buy-In

34 34 Assess Situation Where is your district currently with regard to ________? What is your objective? (Is this aligned with district priorities?) What are potential opportunities? (New policies/programs, student need, administrators agenda.) What are obstacles? (Time, misperceptions, competing agendas, complex issue.) What is your timeframe? What are your available resources? (Tip: Identify and collect data that will help make your case.)

35 35 Identify Your Target Audience (Whom do you need to convince?) Recent stakeholder interviews suggest the answer is principals, administrators, and district- wide decision makers. »District administrators (pupil services supervisors, sped directors, curriculum directors). »Building administrators (principals, asst. administrators). Grade level or content area leaders. School board members. Who are your allies? Who are your opponents? (Tip: Consider how parent or staff perspectives might help or hinder your communications.)

36 36 Know Your Audiences Level of knowledge/awareness. Primary concerns/expectations. Covert or overt agendas. Perspective. Possible barriers to understanding. Competing considerations. Ability/likelihood to take action. (Tip: Identify and collect data that will help make your case.)

37 Message Development: 3 Core Messages with 3 Supporting Points Each (Often called the Rule of 3: Its hard for people to remember more than 3 things at a time.)

38 38 Effective Message Structure Problem statement Action/solution Benefits

39 39 Define Problem Students (academic scores, behavior data, attendance, referrals). Staff (morale, skills, collaboration, classroom climate, development). Parents (involvement, collaboration, communication). Administration (AYP, school climate, resource allocation, legal requirements, district agendas, academic priorities). Community (access to services, collaboration, involvement, safety). (Tip: Ground problem in assessment/data.)

40 40 Suggest Actions/Solution What needs to be done? What does research indicate? What existing resources/processes can be tapped to help? What staff will be impacted? How will you monitor outcomes and report results? What staff training might help? How can you help educate and engage parents. How can you help? (Tip: Be part of the solution to every extent possible.)

41 41 Define Benefits Improved student outcomes (academic, behavior, mental health). Data collection/evidence of effectiveness. Improved staff effectiveness and collaboration. Improved school climate/outcomes. Use of evidence-based strategies and progress/outcomes monitoring. Increased parent or community involvement. Better use of resources. (Tip: Frame benefits from the decision makers point of view.)

42 Time is short So are peoples attention spans. Hone in on the point, back it up, and stick to it.

43 43 Overarching Message What you want administrators to understand: »We can be part of the solution, no matter the problem. What you want administrators to do: »Tap your school psychologist as a resource to help all students learn.

44 44 Core Messages 1.School psychologists are a unique, essential, and valuable part of the school team. 2.In todays tough economic climate, your school psychologist may be an untapped resource. 3.Support the well-being of your school/district by supporting school psychologists role and funding.

45 45 Be Relevant (i.e., Know Your Audience.) Why do administrators care? What is in it for them? What role do they play? How does the solution meet their needs? This may vary between audiences. (Tip: Relate your services to priority issues/challenges within the school/ district.)

46 46 Be Concise/Clear Use audience appropriate language. Avoid acronyms/technical language. Use active tense. Use bullets to the extent possible. Ask colleague(s) to review. Proofread your work (or ask someone else to)!

47 47 Resonate Appeal to emotion as well as intellect. Use social math, not just statistics. Put a face on the issue. Tell stories, not just facts. Be a good listener. Need a clear call to action »Dont allow your target audience to guess what you need

48 48 Statistics Versus... Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Percentage of students responding regarding behavior during 12 months preceding survey: YRBSS Middle School 2003* Survey 2003** 1. Seriously considered attempting suicide Made a specific plan Made an attempt Made an attempt requiring medical attention 2.9 Lieberman, Poland & Cassel, 2006

49 49 … Social Math For every youth that attempt suicide, one child succeeds. For every three youths who attempt suicide, one goes to the hospital and two go to school. Lieberman, Poland & Cassel, 2006

50 50 Facts Versus... Children who are bullied or ostracized can suffer serious emotional and academic difficulties.

51 51 … Personal Stories A student who had been bullied once asked me, Do you know what it is like to feel that you are hated by everyone the first day you enter kindergarten? This young man had composed a journal filled with his dark and sad reflections on life. The last page was filled with one phrase repeated again and again: I decide who lives and who dies. Luckily, there is good news with this young man. Through significant emotional support and alternative strategies for education, he graduated last year. He hugged me on graduation day, thanking me for believing in him. He told me that his greatest joy was not in graduating, but in the fact that his mother hugged him, telling him how proud she felt. --John Kelly, U.S. Senate Briefing Testimony, 2006

52 52 Consistent Points to MakeReview 1.Unique and essential part of the school team. 2.Untapped resource. 3.Request: Support school psychologists role and funding. Reiterate how you can help!

53 Getting out of the storage room and onto the agenda is not self-interested self-promotion. It is essential to being an active and accessible member of the school team.

54 54 You Have Valuable Knowledge Your contributions are on behalf of children and families, not yourself. See yourself (and promote yourself) as an asset to administrators and other decision makers. »Talk about yourself as an untapped resource. You share the common goal of helping ALL students and schools succeed.

55 55 Coordinate Your Efforts Combine efforts with other SPs. Team up with other personnel (counselor, social worker, reading specialist). »Recent interviews with stakeholder groups suggest that it is increasingly important that SPs promote themselves as part of the school team versus isolated help for special needs student only. Ask to be listed as a resource in materials sent home or posted on the web.

56 Avoid creating or appearing to create turf battles that others need to mediate.

57 Communications Message Development Activity Total Time: 30 Minutes

58 58 Interactive Activity Break into small groups. Issues to address: »Protecting SP positions. »Communicating your role. Target audience: »Building administrators. »District decision makers/school boards. Examine 3 core messages. »Identify supporting points (3 is optimal). »Share and compare messages. »Review research findings for supporting points.

59 59 Interactive Activity (continued) When developing supporting points, keep in mind that strong support points use a mix of content: »Anecdotes/storytelling »Quotes/endorsements from a 3rd party that adds credibility »Directions to learn more/find more information »Statistics or facts

60 Share and Compare Messages

61 61 Materials Online Advocacy Roadmap: Preserving and Promoting School Psychological Services at the Local and State Levels (includes talking points and key messages). School Support Resources to help schools support students and academic progress in todays economic climate. Adaptable materials in packet. Adaptable materials/presentations on specific topics (e.g., resilience, mental health). Guidelines/tips on communications and advocacy strategies. Create Your Own Website resources.

62 62 Materials Online Communications Resources Session Handouts (SS36) handouts.aspx handouts.aspx Economic Crisis Resources Advocacy Resources (Roadmaps)

63 63 Share your materials and ideas with us. Andrea Cohn: Kathy Cowan: Stacy Skalski:

64 This slide presentation may be adapted by the user to reflect specifics in your district/schools. Content or best practice information may not be changed without approval from NASP. The NASP logo and any specific author credits must remain. State and local school psychology associations may add their logo and contact information to the presentation. This slide may be removed before giving a presentation. ©2009, National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD, 20814, (301)

65 NASP represents school psychology and supports school psychologists to enhance the learning and mental health of all children and youth.

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