Spring-Cleaning? 2 Quick Tips on How to “Marie Kondo” Your School Newsletter

Dr. Kara Stern
3 min read
Wooden table with two plants, a cup, and a laptop on it.

I subscribe to the theory that the things we need, we use; the things we don’t need, we don’t use, and they simply take up space. I bring the same belief to my newsletters. Ever wonder what would Marie Kondo say about the ideal school newsletter?

Every year, when the first day of spring rolls around, I get the itch to clean out all the closets in the house.

I figure the things we need, we use. The things we don’t need, we don’t use, and they take up space. The same goes for newsletters! What would Marie Kondo say about the ideal school newsletter? She would say it should, “Spark joy, in the most uncluttered way possible.”

GIF of woman asking a shirt if it sparks joy

To show you what that might look like in practice, I’m going to borrow from an actual newsletter (with no offense meant to its author!)

Newsletter Pre-Marie:

This message is the sweetest, but the number of words don’t spark joy for the reader who skims. Which, tbh, is most of us.

So, let’s Marie Kondo that paragraph in 2 quick steps:

1. Show, don’t tell.

Replace many of those words with a picture. It increases the chances that people will pay attention to what you’re saying.

2. Omit needless words

  • Give it a title. Turn the paragraph into its own section and use your first sentence as the title. Not only are you reducing word clutter but you’re also making the newsletter easier to read, by drawing attention to a new section.
  • Don’t give a citation when you can simply hyperlink the reference. It both cuts down on your word length, and increases the likelihood that people will read the source material.
  • (h/t Strunk & White)

And now, for the big reveal (🥁 🥁, please):

This picture conveys all of the feels in significantly fewer words. The hyperlink assigns automatic believability: the stat is backed by research. The bolded words highlight the author’s call to action. The section break is easy on the eyes.

Most of us read updates on our phones, while on the go. People spend an average of 10 seconds reading an email — this means you have to create impact in order to meet people where they are.

Cull it down and preserve what’s most important. It’s the Marie Kondo way! Here’s a spring template pre-formatted for your next update, and totally uncluttered 🧹.

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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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