7 Ways School Secretaries Are a Secret Weapon For Good Communication

It’s funny how school leaders think they are in charge, when we all know the school secretary holds the keys.

School Secretary

There probably isn’t anyone in school who has more daily interaction with the biggest cross-section of those served than school secretaries. On the phone, in the lobby, in the halls, in the break room and in the front office, the school secretary is literally everywhere. If you’re not tapping into that resource, you’re missing out on a critical knowledge base.

1. School secretaries track data

The school secretary is the leader in data tracking and this information can be used to better execute the school communications plan. One thing to track is who comes in and out of the office and how long they stay. Once information is being tracked, you may be surprised how much meaning can be extrapolated.

2. School secretaries listen in

Many parents stop and have meaningful conversations in the school lobby where a school secretary is within earshot. The same goes with student conversations. Listening is a huge component of what the secretary does and what they overhear can be incredibly helpful for you.

  • a mom telling another parent how far they have to travel to participate in an activity
  • a staff member asking when a big event is happening
  • a dad complaining about curriculum or staff changes

These are the things on the minds of community members and now you can work to resolve them.

3. School secretaries measure the effect of school communication

What’s the click-through and read-rates? How many parents have shown up confused by information shared that way? Never underestimate the parent communication pipeline. If you’re sharing information with a single grade or class, don’t ever assume that information isn’t making it to other parents, as well. Sometimes it’s a fine line between not sharing enough and sharing too much.

4.School secretaries take the internal temperature of a school

School secretaries tend to be positioned near staff mailboxes and copiers. They can quickly identify when a staff communication breakdown is happening. Oftentimes the office can feel very far from what the teachers are doing, so make sure you’re checking in with the secretary to find out if that channel of communication is open.

5. School Secretaries keep websites current and interesting

It’s not always easy for people who use a website all the time to anticipate how others will interact with it. What’s intuitive for those inside your building is often not what’s intuitive for those outside of it. The first time the school secretary tries to walk someone through the steps of accessing something on the website and gets a blank stare in return, you know it’s time to think about the flow and ease of access on the website.

6. School secretaries know how to balance communication

You probably manage a website, a social media presence, a parent portal, and a student portal–then there’s email and in-home mailings. Phew! You know parents and the community want to be connected, but how much is too much? There’s certainly no perfect answer and a lot will come through trial and error.

As always, finding the balance is crucial. It’s not good practice to merely put the same information in every location, but at the same time you can’t skip channels of communication and also ensure everyone is getting the message.

7. School Secretaries know how to improve

Once you’ve used the secretary’s intel to spot the holes in the current plan, it’s time to improve. With all their practice gathering and processing information, school secretaries have great instincts for what comes next. Tap into their ability to anticipate issues. School secretaries will be able to spot the communications issues that need fleshing out and foresee the questions that could arise.

Join our Facebook group Principal Life for more ideas on how to transform your school.

Nicole Haase

Posted by Nicole Haase

I'm a freelance writer in Milwaukee who works part time in communications at a school. You can find me on Twitter at @nicolehaase.

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