The Art of Communicating Effectively

With co-author Ethan Clark

ListeningListening is the most important part of communication. Try this listening activity to identify the themes presented in this Reflections award winning music composition. Click here to listen to “Becoming a Piano Teacher” by Emily DeNucci. Actively listen for three movements and see if you can recognize the message that Emily is communicating through music.

Now, check on how well you listened! When you heard “Becoming a Piano Teacher” by Emily DeNucci, did you hear all three movements? Check your listening skills with her artist statement below.

“This music piece is about is that there’s a little girls, Rosalina, who loves to play the piano, and when she grows up she wants to be a piano teacher.  So the first part of my piano song is that she believes she can do it and she practices piano more and more.  The second part of my song is that Rosalina, every night dreams about being a piano teacher.  The third part of my song is that when she grows up she really does become a piano teacher, and she knew, all that time, that her teacher inspired her.” – Emily DeNucci

Like listening to a musical composition, parents and teachers need many opportunities to engage in two-way dialogue so that they can better understand each other’s perspectives and how to support student success.

Listening is the First Step for Communicating Effectively at School

The National Standards for Family-School Partnerships provide a framework for strengthening family engagement programs to focus on what parents, schools and communities can do together to support student success. Communicating Effectively with school staff about student learning is the second of the six standards.

The goal for Communicating Effectively is sharing information between school and families. Families, the community, and school staff should communicate in numerous interactive ways, both formally and informally. After all, communication is the key to building trusting relationships, and relationships are the key to engaging all families! Indicators for this standard include providing information on current issues and facilitating connections among families.

Consider how your PTA can encourage positive, two-way dialogue between parents and school staff at these arts education events:

  • Invite families and school staff to student exhibitions and performances.
  • Recognize student achievement in the arts at school staff and school board meetings.
  • Host a student artist reception and facilitate introductions at back to school night and during activity fairs.
  • Encourage school leaders to volunteer at a fundraiser supporting afterschool arts activities.

The arts — and the National PTA Reflections® program, in particular — can be a valuable tool for building stronger partnerships in your school community and meeting the Standard for Communicating Effectively.

We challenge you to use the arts as a listening tool – not just for music, but for creating opportunities for families and teachers to connect. And the next time your PTA and school staff work together, take a photo and upload it to your favorite social media site like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can use the hashtag #StartTheArts to expand the conversation among families, school staff, and community partners.

Read more to learn about each of the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships and the steps you can take with PTA Reflections to meet them. Also, consider enrolling in the National PTA School of Excellence program to gain new ways to engage all families in each of the standards. National PTA School of Excellence is a recognition program that supports and celebrates partnerships between PTAs and schools to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students. Contact or call (800)307-4782 for more info.

Second in a series of blog posts co-authored by National PTA’s Senior Manager of Family Engagement Sherri Wilson & Manager of Arts in Education Ethan Clark.


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