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Leveraging Local Media to Communicate with Multilingual Families

Reaching all families by sending messages through diverse channels

Overview

Ector County Independent School District (ECISD) leaders quickly realized that communicating effectively with the community would be critical to reopening schools. The district quickly ramped up work with media across different channels to establish regular means of updating the rural community.

“I do a weekly press conference with every local media outlet. They're just hungry for information. It started out as a pandemic response and let's talk about the virus and what we're doing in virtual learning. And now it is really the school district speaks to our families and communities every single week on the work of our system. Our presence is felt in our community, in all media outlets...We are visible.” - Scott Muri, Superintendent, ECISD

Approach

ECISD used the following tools in both English and Spanish:

  • Social media through FaceBook and Twitter

  • Weekly press conferences with local media outlets (television and radio)

  • Every other week live topical broadcasts on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter

A key learning in this process was that not all communities were being reached by these means. Muri reflected, “When we looked at data and needed to figure out how to communicate effectively, we were missing subgroups of our population.” The district engaged with a broader group of county leaders to dig into the challenge: “Through conversation, we realized, looking at data, there's a group of people that are missing. You know, why is this particular population not following the guidance that we're giving? And we realize that because they're not hearing it. They're not receiving it. And it was primarily [a group of] parents and grandparents in the Hispanic community. We were not using their media outlets. Spanish radio, we discovered, is their media outlet.” Based on this, ECISD proactively sought to build a closer relationship with Spanish-speaking news and radio.

While originally established for crisis purposes, leaders are now using the channels to engage families more directly in teaching and learning:

“We feature a different topic every single time. Tonight, for instance, we're talking about summer learning. And so we'll interview some of our teachers and leaders, etc, that are going to be providing summer learning experiences for our students. Again, it's informing. [Earlier in the year] we had Chris Minnich from NWEA. He was one of our guests when we worked with our parents through how to read your own MAP assessment. So we have some interesting celebrity guests, if you will, who help us educate and inform our parents and community members about the important work of the system. And so there is a lot more communication today.”- Scott Muri, Superintendent, Ector County ISD


This strategy is a part of TLA's Hop, Skip, Leapfrog release, which explores the concrete ways in which schools and systems pursued student-centered innovation during COVID-19. Explore the full guide to find additional strategies, insights, and resources.


Strategy Resources


Partnering with Community Leaders to Problem-Solve

Ector County Independent School District Superintendent Scott Muri shares how he began meeting weekly with... Learn More

Communicating about Reopening Measures with Families Toolkit

This practitioner toolkit from the Parabola Project developed in partnership with Learning Heroes and Edge... Learn More

Communications Planning for Innovation in Education

Education Elements and The Learning Accelerator partnered to create this communications guide which includes a... Learn More