The Educator's Imperative: Two-Way Communication

by Signal Vine | October 20, 2021
The Educator's Imperative: Two-Way Communication

The Educator's Imperative: Two-Way Communication

When I went back to school after a 20-year break, one thing was clear: my email inbox was full of ‘telling’. Telling me to do stuff, telling me about events, telling me due dates that didn’t apply to me.

Whether we are 18 or 48, most of us prefer two-way communication. An ability to validate, appreciate, respond, clarify, and remove ourselves from irrelevant strings. And, the more relevant-to-me messages that we receive, the more likely that we will want the option to respond.

The role of staff

I also have empathy for the staff. Leading an undergraduate program required me to coordinate with students across multiple majors and different graduation plans. I did a lot of telling because I cared. I cared immensely for my students who I wanted to succeed, and my staff who were always on the edge of burning out due to fire drills for students who missed deadlines and needed exceptions.

As we prepared messages to go out, we always erred on the side of sending too many. There was always concern of segmenting too much, resulting in a student being overlooked and "never getting the message." Plus, we wanted to make sure that we gave the student access to ALL of the information - even though we knew they probably wouldn’t read the whole thing. Our subject lines tried to compensate for the long message.

Finding the right balance

The educator is typically trying to balance two things: 1.) Get information to students and 2.) Eliminate unnecessary traffic to staff. The answer is simple: two-way communication. Signal Vine utilizes just that, which is why I believe it is the best way, and “the new way,” of supporting student success and retaining staff.

Two-way communication in schools offers support, elicits insight

When we ask students to do something, our timelines may feel arbitrary to them. They don’t have context for the engine that is running the institution. Changing your tactic from “do something” to “do you need help?” opens the door for communication, including even disappointing news like, “I’m not attending your institution.” Two-way communication makes staff a partner in the student’s success.

Two-way communication helps get confirmation

We have such good intentions and put together a litany of reminders. And often there is a reason much bigger than “I haven’t had time” or the standard assumption, ‘they must need more money.’ Confirming a student's intent to take action provides an opportunity to understand and address their obstacle in a meaningful way. Two-way communication provides clarity to the student, and at the same time offers valuable insight for the institution.

Conversations open new possibilities of communication

Like faculty and staff, students are busy. It’s not unusual for a student to receive a message about one thing and respond with a completely different question. “Actually, since I have you here, I have a much bigger problem right now!” This is the beauty of Signal Vine; building a relationship with students by being there when they need you. Surfacing these questions early can eliminate bigger issues later.

When reaching out to students, be prepared for them to ask questions about other things. It’s tempting to say that is someone else’s job. However, take the extra step and get them re-routed to the support that can address the issue at hand. Two-way communication enables students to leverage their resources even if they aren’t exactly sure where to go.

Discover the benefits of two-way communication in education

Can email do this? Not really. Automation aside, the reality is that students do not respond to email. Signal Vine’s Blended Messaging is fundamentally changing the way that students and staff can engage with one another in a meaningful, outcome-oriented way, with intentional two-way communication.

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