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Build Rapport Through Communication

from Nichole Schweitzer
Principal of Wisconsin Connections Academy Effective communication is at the heart of a successful virtual school program. Unlike a traditional school, where students are a captive audience, in a virtual school you must continually reach out and put measures in place that also allow for feedback and input from the frontlines the parents themselves. As principal of Wisconsin Connections Academy, I am in constant communication with my students’ parents. For example, I publish a monthly newsletter to help keep our parents informed of school activities, I encourage them to contact me, and I listen carefully. When a parent says "This dinosaur project is ridiculous," I have to take note of it, and be able to discern if this one opinion, or if there have been other such comments that would indicate the need for a review of the assignment and associated standards. If the concerns and feedback of parents are not met with responsiveness and openness, there will be little reason why they would choose to be a part of your school. Another way we build a rapport with our families is through bi-monthly teacher "check-ins." In addition to ongoing communications that are part of the daily lesson interactions, our teachers place two calls a month to each student and parent simply to check in, see how the student is doing overall, and continue to build an amicable relationship with the family. These calls are informal and are an excellent means for the teacher to build and maintain a personal connection to each student and his/her parents.