Have you ever discussed or thought about the importance of two-way communication
in education? Should we consider how we communicate? First, we should consider what
kind of communication we are using now. Second, we should ask ourselves how we can
better communicate. Third, is it worth communicating more or differently? So before you
continue reading take 15 minutes and reflect on communication, two-way communication and
how you know it is effective? How can educators ensure two-way communication is effective?
What would it mean for our kids, parents and our community?
Two-way communication always includes feedback from the receiver to the sender and
lets the sender know the message has been received accurately. In two-way communication,
communication is negotiated. Both sender and receiver listen to each other, gather information
and willing to make changes to work together in harmony to reach a mutually satisfactory
situation. So take a few minutes and reflect on the communication you practice.
Why is two-way communication important? Student success is higher when teachers,
parents and students are collaborating using a team approach according to research (Bitsko,
2006). This is great to know however if teachers, parents and students are not collaborating
this has the opposite effect. It means students have less overall success in school. The lack of
two-way communication is the culprit for the lack of collaboration. Two-way communication
has to be the first step toward collaboration and eventually strong relationships. Parents,
students, principals and teachers understand and want strong relationships (Vance 2015).
However, according to Foster (2015)
“There is a significant communication gap between the
public, parents, and schools” (p. 35).
One fact is that teachers do not come from the same
neighborhoods as the students. They don't talk the same language. In other words, the
students are from poverty and the teachers are from middle to upper-class neighborhoods.
Communication doesn't happen so relationships cannot happen. Public school districts face
difficulties in communicating with parents even when they try in a collaborative effort.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the law of the land and it will govern
where the money will be focused on our schools and judged. It specifically says: S. 1177-70
‘‘ensuring regular two-way, meaningful communication between family members and
school staff, and, to the extent practicable, in a language that family members can
This means that districts have to take further steps to use two-way
communication. Districts in the past always pushed information out to parents, grandparents
or guardians, however the districts did not have any expectation of receiving communication
back from them. In other words, districts will need to show how they are using two-way
communication. Since ESSA is new and not implemented yet or even defined by the Federal
or State Departments of Education we do not know the exact expectations. Maybe this will
lead to improved family-engagement.
So in conclusion, think about the collaborative or noncollaborative environment you
work while reflecting on the quality of two-way communication. How is ESSA going to affect
your district, schools, parents and students?
Bitsko, S., Phipps, D., & Barnheiser, M. (2006). Parent Involvement: Strategies for
Success. University of Dayton. Pg. 2.
Foster, A. (2015). PDK/GALLUP POLL: When answers mean more questions.
Education Digest, 80(6), 35.
Vance, N. (2015). Joyce Epstein's School-Family-Community Partnership Model.
Research Starters: Education (Online Edition).