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  • Tony Wold, Ed.D.

How to connect with families more effectively

By Tony Wold, Ed.D.

Watch this video clip from our April 2022 webinar here.

The pandemic changed many things about how we do work and communicate. Learning Management Systems (LMS) became an essential tool to deliver instruction and keep us connected. The reliance on technology became even more important when we suddenly did not have the ability to connect in person. We also learned that the personal touch really matters as we are now trying to address the invisible social and emotional impacts of the isolation and lack of personal interaction. Over the past 2.5 years our students, and parents, across the nation have cultivated new habits with respect to attendance which has resulted in more than 40% of students across all grade spans reaching chronic rates of absenteeism, having missed more than 10% of their instructional days.

SI&A has been supporting school districts across the country to rebuild attendance habits and proactively works with those districts to improve student achievement with our Attendance Management System (AMS). Just as an LMS is essential today, so is an AMS. One thing, however, that is still necessary is to remember the need for a personal touch as we restore and build attendance habits. Because of our reliance on technology, many districts have relied on email and text messaging to communicate with families. In this short 2-minute video clip we discuss the research on electronic communications with data that shows that sometimes the expedient way to communicate is not the most effective.

There is still an impact that is more than nostalgia to have a tangible impact on people. In a world of Kindle and e-books, there are many who still want to pick up a book in their hands and escape into the story they are reading. The same goes for the old-school "refrigerator" messages. We all remember that photo, art project, or recognition that is placed on the refrigerator. The Achievement Initiative by SI&A provides these "refrigerator" proactive target communications in a cost-effective way. In a world where the first email you received in the morning has dropped to page 2 our your email inbox, the same with your text messages, messages that need more than instantaneous response get lost in the electronic world.

Research shows that it required between 6 to 20 times to deliver a message for it to move toward becoming a habit. The one-and-done electronic communications can give a quick nudge but are soon forgotten with the hustle-bustle of everyday life. Old fashioned mail, however, still has a strong action quotient. Having something tangible to hold and read requires a greater focus, and there is a small psychological impulse that releases a quick level of endorphins with anticipation and connection that you got something in the mail. Where electronic communications may only reach a small portion of the intended audience, well-crafted mail has a greater impact. SI&A has proven research that attendance behaviors change after just one tangible message, which is our ultimate goal.



Editor’s note: Dr. Tony Wold is SI&A’s CBO in Residence. Prior to joining SI&A, Dr. Tony Wold was the Associate Superintendent of Business Services at the West Contra Costa Unified School district after four years serving as the Assistant Superintendent of Business at the Westminster School District. He holds a doctorate degree in Education from the University of Southern California.

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