How a New England Dean of Students Revamped School's Communication Protocol

At Outermost Education, my Educator Consulting service is designed to be adaptive and customizable to an educator’s immediate needs or concerns. While some educators need guidance during their first year of teaching or with a transition into an administrative role, others need assistance with larger scale, strategic projects. By working with an experienced education consultant informed by industry standards and a forward-thinking design lens, educators are better equipped to start and complete projects that benefit their schools’ entire administrative ecosystem.


Every educator and consulting relationship is different. Yet, the more I work one-on-one with boarding school educators and administrators, I learn that what educators need from a professional consultant is actually quite simplistic: guidance and support.


Take for example a Dean of Students I recently worked alongside to develop a new protocol for communication amongst teachers and dorm parents. While the role of a Dean of Students has strategic responsibilities, the reality of the job is that it is highly reactionary. On a day-to-day basis, the responsibilities requiring immediate attention can change and adapt, shifting more strategic projects to the back burner. Because of the role’s demands and responsibility to students, it is not uncommon for even experienced deans to have a hard time fitting in the strategic work.


Take a look below to see how Outermost Education worked with this New England-based Dean of Students to design an effective project strategy, from start to finish.


THE EDUCATOR

Our Dean of Students is in her 5th year at a New England boarding school. Due to the all-encompassing aspect of her role, she deals with constant day-to-day interruptions related to classroom and dorm discipline infractions. With limited time, energy, and resources, she is feeling frustrated and nearing burnout.


THE PROBLEM

During our first coaching session, the Dean identifies that the lack of follow-through and accountability from faculty regarding student discipline is a significant pain point. The Dean speaks at length about her frustrations with her colleagues, students, and parents in regards to follow-up and communication protocols. She recognizes that she is not using the existing school technology to its fullest potential to manage the reporting and accountability related to small and frequent infractions.


Upon reflection in our initial consulting sessions, the Dean recognizes that a system overhaul is required before internal communication and processes can be improved.


THE SOLUTION

In discussing her primary sources of burnout, the Dean identifies a goal to create a more structured protocol for communication after a teacher or dorm parent enters an infraction in their student management system.


This project will require the Dean to:

  • Design and vet a new protocol;

  • Update the existing technology platform to automate elements of communication;

  • Clearly and effectively communicate the new protocols and expectations to colleagues at the start of the next school year;

  • Identify early adopters of the new protocol to celebrate and encourage others;

  • Document the entire process to create continuity of institutional knowledge moving forward.


While this may be a specific issue to address on a daily basis, it speaks to a larger strategic issue within her school regarding faculty accountability in the discipline reporting process and communication with families, a concern for many boarding schools.


During coaching sessions in which the Dean identifies this frustration and the need for a strategic overhaul, she reflects that this project feels like a significant undertaking. She is unclear about the steps necessary to complete this project in a timely manner so that she can communicate the new protocol effectively to her colleagues prior to the start of the new school year, four months from the initial conception of the idea.


In subsequent coaching sessions, we focus our efforts on creating a project management timeline with objectives, milestones, and specific deadlines, enabling the dean to move forward with direction and purpose to achieve her overall objective.


THE OUTCOME

The Dean later reflects that without coaching she would continue to tolerate this frustration without moving toward a solution, causing unnecessary stress and feelings of overwhelm, burnout, and decreased job satisfaction. Even though she had a sense of what she needed to do to improve the communication among her colleagues, she knew that she would face daily interruptions with the potential to sidetrack the project in its entirety.


With the guidance of a consultative coach, she has not only the support required to complete a large-scale project but an informed industry approach to the strategic question at hand. Together, we discussed her frustrations, identified solutions and goals, and created a realistic and targeted timeline. Consultative educator coaching with Outermost Education provides a unique blend of individual support and accountability that together yields efficient and effective results.


Contact me today to learn more about how your boarding school can provide year-round professional development to its faculty.


-Jackie