PMP:076 Messaging Matters–How to Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students and Reach Communities

Last month, Justin Baeder, from Principal Center Radio, invited me as a guest on his show to talk to me about my new book Messaging Matters: How to Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities.

He was gracious enough to allow me to repost the interview here. Here are some takeaways from our conversation:

Why is messaging so important?

In every setting of school, amazing learning and moments are happening every day that not a lot of people know about. In the humility of our service as educators, we are often hesitant to brag about our schools. On a national scale, this has created a crisis with a political landscape that now assumes most schools are failing. How can we make a commitment to celebrating the positives so often that those moment drown out the negative ones?

When you are talking about policies and resources that schools need to matter, then your messaging matters on how elected officials and the general public perceive whether schools are worth supporting.

Instead of telling educators to “stay out of the newspaper,” we should do the opposite. How do we increase our messaging with students, teachers, and our communities? We must adopt new habits of looking for moments of celebration and then embedding practices to consistently share that out.

You are the astronaut!

Messaging first begins with mindset. Just like you can only see one side of the moon from the surface of the earth, others can only see a limited perspective of your school. As a school leader, you often have a wider perspective of what’s happening in school because you have access to so many locations, classrooms, and conversations within the school. Since you can “see more of the moon,” you have a responsibility and a privilege of sharing out that perspective with the rest of the world.

7 Ways to Maximize Messaging

  1. Commit to a daily and weekly broadcast of amazing moments. Encourage teachers and students to adopt that mindset as well.
  2. Practice and schedule messaging so that you build momentum around those messages.
    Our students took positive messaging farther than anyone when they began a movement of kindness at our school. Their decision to share positive notes on a girls’ bathroom mirror became a story our school shared on Facebook and was shared on TV news.
  3. Be present and mindful when you are with students. Instead of just doing walkthroughs or observations by using a tech tool, force yourself to look into the faces of students and teachers and identify what kind of learning is happening.
  4. Include teachers and students in communicating what learning is taking place in school. Whether that is bringing a team of teachers to board members or students demonstrating what they’re learning, let people hear from the products of our educational environments—students themselves.
  5. Give teachers permission to share out their best ideas. If you have a techy-teacher, include him or her to share with other teachers.
  6. Commit to a weekly newsletter that can be sent to parents and community members so they have an image-rich summary of awesome happenings. Give parents a positive context for your schools so that problems or conflicts are always in the context of positive conversations you’ve already initiated.
  7. Don’t be afraid to oversaturate your audience, parents or community with positive moments.

Love Your Schools

Would you consider giving yourself permission to love your schools? I know you already do, but show that love by the commitment you will make to celebrated, highlight, and broadcast those student achievements with the rest of the world.

Principal Center Radio

Thanks to Justin Baeder for allowing me republish this podcast episode. You can check out Justin’s amazing resources for school leaders at PrincipalCenter.com.

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Principal Matters–The Book!


School leaders are very busy, so each of the twenty-four chapters is designed as a quick-read and followed with take-action questions for follow-up or reflection. If you want practical ideas on understanding your purpose, managing school teams, dealing with challenges, and leading with courage, action, motivation, and teamwork, go HERE to pick up a copy for you or your team.

Messaging Matters


Harness the power of messaging to create a culture of acknowledgment, respect, and celebration. Written specially for leaders, this title is divided into three parts, helping readers to maximize their role as chief communicators with students, teachers, and parents and community. Each chapter includes suggestions for using digital tools to enhance messaging and ends with reflection questions and practical next steps.