Allan J. Mucerino
KEEP NO SECRETS, PART 1
Updated: Jan 17
Strategic Communications Series #1
The ten commandments of effective school communication has stood the test of time. Fifty years ago this February, a paper was presented by Kenneth K. Muir at the 104th annual school administrator's meeting in Atlantic City. The paper identified ten commandments to follow religiously when communicating educational information to school district patrons.
Among the commandments educators have been most challenged by in recent times is, Thou Shalt Keep No Secrets. Make sure your community finds out about the important things from you. And if the information has only been teased or not yet totally released, let your community know that you'll find out, and when you do, you'll share it with them.
Walt Disney is credited to have said, "Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful, insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows." School leaders sometimes have to operate in the shadows, but that doesn't give a leader the license to be evasive. If there's a valid reason to withhold information, don't withhold that reason. Be forthright and explain why you're unable to share certain things. People will understand and respect you for it.
Here are a series of weekly messages exemplifying the commandment, which is key to building trust with your community. You work at the pleasure of the Board of Education, who are entrusted with the public's confidence. By extension, as a public servant you work for your community. These messages were during the midst of remote learning when messages of hope and perseverance were most needed. The hope was generated from improved COVID-19 conditions and the possibility of reopening schools for in-person learning in the month or two to come.