Belonging Begins at the Bell

23 February 2024 | By viviedu

How schools can combat student disengagement through proactive communication

According to recent reports, chronic absenteeism, defined as students missing 10 percent or more of the school year, continues to be higher than pre-pandemic levels, and in some states, is still on the rise. This is a major reason for concern for all levels of education, from local school boards to the federal government.

While no single, simple fix exists, school leaders can apply various strategies—both big and small—to address the issue.

In fact, we’re seeing more school leaders implementing initiatives that are designed to make school a place where students not only come to learn, but also to feel a sense of belonging – a place where they want to be. And building principals can set the tone from the very beginning of each school day.

A recent EdWeek article touched on how school principals and teachers are using morning greetings as an opportunity to connect with students as they start their day. The article shares specific advice, such as using music, giving out high-fives, and greeting students by name, all of which contribute, critically, to making students feel seen and heard.

But morning greetings are just the start. Below we explore four ways school leaders can build on these moments throughout the school day. Their goal? Humanize school leaders and let students and staff know they are seen.

#1 Build on personal morning greetings with broader announcements shared throughout the day.

Recognize student achievements and showcase a diverse range of student voices throughout the school day. You can also use announcements to spark conversations about key issues, such as kindness, empathy, and respect.

#2 Highlight multiple voices and formats.

While school administrators often lead the way with announcements, they don’t have take center stage every time. Share the spotlight with different staff members. You can even let students run select school communications. You’ll not only empower them, you’ll also showcase voices that reflect the diversity of your community. Using various media such as video, audio and visual imagery also deepens the impact of your communication. People absorb information differently, so using different formats increases the effectiveness of your communications. And while it may seem scary, streaming live as opposed to sharing pre-recorded messages lets you “be real.” Your community will respect that.

[Check out Vivi Video and Text Announcement to see how Vivi simplifies sharing video messaging across a school’s network of connected displays.]

#3 Coordinate communications across platforms to reinforce messaging.

Don’t share something important once and expect it will be remembered. Technology makes it simpler to align communications and amplify them across channels. For example, incorporate questions shared in a live video or over the public address system into your digital signage. Then, share it throughout the school day across your building. Even better, make it interactive by adding a QR code. Students and staff can share their responses through an online form or poll.

[Read more about the creative ways schools around the world use digital signage to connect their school communities.]

#4 Show some personality (and don’t fret about a few mistakes)!

While education is important, so is having fun. Cracking a terrible joke or sharing a personal anecdote can go a long way to humanizing school leaders who can sometimes seem larger than life to students. Don’t over-rehearse or over-edit. Remember, people love watching blooper reels or outtakes from movies. Why? Because they show actors as real people, just like them! Making mistakes is part of learning, and learning never stops.

By adopting a comprehensive, integrated approach to on-campus communication, schools can create an environment where every student feels like they truly belong.

Curious about how Vivi simplifies at-school communications? Request a demo to learn more.