Great Communications & Great PD: How 1 Principal’s School Newsletter Accomplishes Both

Dr. Kara Stern
3 min read
Teacher giving a presentation called Organizing Math Centers.

We caught up with 2nd-3rd grade principal Rich Czyz to learn about how he infuses PD into his weekly school newsletter.

Rich is in the midst of getting the work out about his 3rd book: Rogue Leader: Make the Rules, Inspire Others, and Take Control of Your Own Professional Development Destiny. He’s also the co-founder of The 4 O’Clock Faculty blog, and a leader of his district’s professional learning.

Rich took a few minutes to share some of his secret sauce with us.

Q: What are 1 or 2 of your goals in your weekly staff communications?

Each week, I share a Friday Focus with our school staff. The newsletter includes important information and upcoming schedule reminders, as well as lesson and subject ideas, inspiration and motivation. I also try to share something that I’ve been learning about!

My goal is always to inspire my colleagues to improve learning for our students!

Q: What are 1 or 2 of your goals in your weekly family communications?

I also share a YES This Week! Newsletter with our families. (Yardville Elementary School!) I want to communicate what’s happening at school each week. I include important schedule reminders, pictures of events and happenings in the building, and any specific information that helps our families. My goal is to shine a light on all of the positive things happening in our school.

Smore served as a lifeline during the pandemic, helping families to have a constant pulse of what was happening and how to help their children!

Q: Your new book is about taking control of PD. Have you ever used Smore to deliver PD to your team?

Smore has been an excellent resource to share professional development with staff. In addition to including professional development resources, links, and articles in the Friday Focus each week, I’ve also used Smore to organize PD resources and links for PD LIFT (Learning & Innovation From Teachers). PD LIFT is a shared monthly PD focus between three schools in my district. Teachers and Tech facilitators collaborate each month to learn and share with each other.

An easily-created Smore has been a great way to organize links, resources, and ideas!

Q: Would you share a Smore pro tip with us?

My Smore Pro Tip is to chunk content and information. Because I share weekly reminders and information, I generally include important calendar dates for the next three months. While it may take a few minutes to include all of this information in the first newsletter that I create, it’s easy to duplicate the newsletter each week and eliminate any calendar dates that have already passed. Chunking content and information early on makes it very efficient when I’m trying to get a newsletter out quickly to staff in the following weeks!

Thanks for the great tips, Rich! Get started with your own PD-focused template here.

Screen shot of Parent Communication School Newsletter Template

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Dr. Kara Stern

Dr. Kara Stern began her career as an ELA teacher, then shifted into administration as a middle school principal. Dr. Stern is a fervent advocate for equitable communication and family engagement. She spent five years as Executive Director at Math for America, where she designed the professional learning community that exists to this day. An unexpected move to Tel Aviv launched her into the world of EdTech where she became the Director of Education Content for Smore and then the Head of Education Solutions at SchoolStatus. Outside of work, she indulges her love for reading, devouring two novels weekly, with a particular fondness for heists and spy stories.

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