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El Paso County Colorado District 49


Our friends and patrons in District 49 may have noticed a concerted effort to share more and better information with our community. Weíve been making a sustained effort to anticipate the information needs of our community and provide information through a variety of channels. Thatís why our communication efforts may seem to be redundant or overlapping ñ they are.We know, for example, that our older students who drive care a lot about road conditions and weather delays, but they donít tend to get their information from email or Facebook. To reach students, itís smarter to use a brief text or images over a service like Twitter. Parents are more likely to check the district web page, read an email or see an update in their Facebook timeline. Knowing that, weíre communicating across a lot of platforms.The danger in this approach is that if we are too productive, we might drown out the feedback we need to hear. The old adage is that you have one mouth and two ears for a reason. We take that wisdom to heart, so when we are using email, Flash Alerts, Twitter, Facebook, postcards, Falcon Insiders and other publishing platforms as the ìmouthî of the district, it is imperative that we build more ears.We are trying to be at least as good at listening as we are at speaking, so over the next several months, you will see an increased frequency of town hall meetings, surveys, Facebook conversations, and discussion sessions with the Board of Education. Thatís all part of our ìtwo earsî strategy to make sure we can hear what our community is saying. We wonít always hear you correctly, or respond perfectly, but our goal is to give you honest opportunities to guide our district toward greatness.Part of our commitment to organizational agility is to ìtry a lot of stuff and keep what works.î I first read that lesson in a great business book, ìBuilt to Last,î which told the story of successful companies and cultures. One example of trying something that didnít work happened in the second quarter this year when I spent two hours in each zone as part of an attempt to invite conversation with our stakeholders. We published these opportunities at local eateries and businesses as an opportunity to ìChat with the CEO.î That initiative failed. Badly. In the eight hours I spent being available to the community, the only conversations I had were with nice servers, and one guy who wanted to borrow the Tabasco from my table. Clearly, that initiative didnít work, so weíre going to mix it up by moving the times to evenings, adding some specific topics and involving building leaders.On the other hand, weíve had tremendous responses to our specific requests for feedback on our ìbig rocksî strategic priorities, as well as our communications initiatives about weather delays and cancellations. We tried that stuff and it seems to be working. So, weíre going to keep trying ways to actively listen to our patrons and stakeholders.We are especially eager to hear critical and constructive feedback, as we move forward in refining our resource campaign to Bring out the Best in District 49. We wonít always get it right, but if you will give us the benefit of the doubt, your responses will shape us into better listeners and leaders. It is said that in capitalism ìthe market is a great teacher.î In education, we care a lot about being teachable, so we are counting on you ñ out educational marketplace ñ to help us develop a better ear. Thanks for the contributions so far, and please keep them coming!

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