School Communications Masterclass Professional Learning Series

Instructor: Patricia Weinzapfel

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Meet your instructor

Patricia Weinzapfel brings more than 30 years of experience to her work. She spent 15 years in broadcast journalism and later, built a career in education as the executive director of family engagement for the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation in Indiana.

These days, Patricia combines her two areas of expertise into one…helping schools use communication to strengthen the bond between the school and home. She travels the country speaking at education conferences and working with school district teams to promote the benefits of clear, effective, and meaningful school communication. She has written a book on the topic and provides a series of workshops, training modules, and educational materials to help educators communicate with a focus on simple, clear and effective language.

The Experience

Patricia’s School Communications Masterclass Professional Learning Series is available to both individuals and school district teams and includes (8) hour-long practical learning sessions, each focusing on a critical area of school communications. In addition to interactive virtual sessions, all participants have an opportunity to engage in (2) hour-long coaching sessions. Coaching sessions are conducted via teams, in the case of districts or 1:1, in the case of individuals.

(8) 60-min. interactive learning sessions

Each of Patricia’s sessions combine information sharing, group discussion, and guided activities. The workshops are full of examples from schools and from broadcast journalism. Every 10 to 15 minutes, participants will engage in a new activity or discussion intended to help them immediately apply their communications knowledge to problems of practice.

(2) 60-min. coaching sessions

(2) pre- and post-assessments to measure subject mastery


Patricia's playbook for Clear, Effective & Meaningful School Communication

The Outcomes

Join our latest cohort and your team will emerge with:

  • Understand why communication is at the heart of effective family engagement
  • Recognize and identify both effective and ineffective communication.
  • Draw on the knowledge of your parents/schools to compose and design communications and learning at home activities that are parent-friendly.
  • Feel capable and empowered to make the most of conversations with families.
  • Engage parents and community partners in school/home communication work.
  • Use suggestions and ideas to design next steps for your communication work.

The Schedule

11/10/2021 | 10 AM - 11 AM Eastern

Session #1 The Importance and Challenge of School Home Communications

This session serves as the foundation for the work ahead. In this module, Patricia will introduce you or your team to the intersection of family engagement and communication and the cultural and systemic barriers to home/school communication. Participants will work through examples that lift up the concepts. By the end of the session, participating educators will have a greater ability to recognize communications that don’t work and a strong foundation to create communications that do.

12/8/2021 | 10 AM - 11 AM Eastern

Session #2 The Words We Use

Sometimes the language we use to explain school practices and goals to families is complicated and full of educational jargon and acronyms. This session gives teams and/or individuals the skills to effectively “translate” those words and acronyms. Learn how just little changes in wording can have a big impact when it comes to building relationships. By the end of this session, participating educators will have the tools to immediately improve critical written and spoken school communications.

1/12/2022 | 10 AM - 11 AM Eastern

Session #3 Information Overload

The amount of information that our schools send home, how we send it home, and what we send home can often cause parents to tune us out and disengage. That’s why it’s important to give parents and caregivers the information they want to know and need to know in ways that cut through their busy lives. Just as students require differentiated instruction, families require differentiated approaches to communication. In this session, Patricia helps participants learn how to pare information down into digestible, useful pieces that can help build trust and family engagement.

2/9/2022 | 10 AM - 11 AM Eastern

Session #4 Non-Verbal Communication

Words matter. But how we string words together and how we say words can often matter more. Non-verbal communication makes up 65 percent 85 percent of communication. Improving non-verbal communication starts with an awareness of families. But it also involves an awareness of what else might be going on in your life and attention to things like body language. In this session, participants will learn simple tips and techniques they can use to ensure that tone and body language are helping build the relationships.

3/9/2022 | 10 AM - 11 AM Eastern

Session #5 Challenging Communications

Every relationship occasionally requires difficult conversations and communications. The same is true in our relationships with our families. The key to challenging conversations or communications is to look at them as opportunities to build even deeper bonds with our families. In this session, participants will work through their fears about difficult communications. They’ll learn how to set the stage for these interactions, how to begin and end communications, and how to respond to the emotions of families.

4/13/2022 | 10 AM - 11 AM Eastern

Session #6 Learning at Home Activities

All parents and caregivers have the capacity to support their children’s education. But sometimes we assign home activities that are not “doable” for our families. Maybe they require background knowledge or skills. Maybe they require too much time. Or, maybe they require a financial investment. In this session, participants will learn the importance of providing families with simple, doable activities that can reinforce or extend the learning at home. They’ll learn how to provide parents a choice and the importance of honoring the activities and learning they are already doing at home with their children.

5/11/2022 | 10 AM - 11 AM Eastern

Session #7 Sharing Student and Learning Data

Never underestimate families. Families have the capacity to understand even the most complex education information, assuming we effectively communicate. Research shows parents want to know how their children are doing in school. It’s important for schools to share data. But school and student data can feel formal and intimidating to parents. In this session, participants will pull together all of the information from the lesson series and apply it to communicating learning goals, objectives, and school and student data. Participants will learn how to communicate about data in a way that leaves parents feeling knowledgeable and empowered to participate in their child’s learning.

Dates and time TBD

Session #8 Creating Lasting Change

In the final learning session, Patricia offers suggestions to help you create buy-in with staff. Participants will receive practical tips to help develop a school/home communication plans tailored to school improvement goals. This session also served as a “wrap up” of the larger course, giving participants the tools and ideas to ensure school communications are not only received, but understood.

Coaching sessions 

I thoroughly enjoyed all of your trainings this year and found them all to be incredibly helpful. We were quickly able to implement your strategies and it made a world of difference in our school and family communications. We specifically incorporated your training on 5 cent vs $5.00 words and "the best friend" strategy. These were simple and easy for our teachers to use and families appreciated the simple and precise language. I hope that we can continue working with you!

Lauren Milford

East Jackson Middle School, Jackson County Public Schools (GA)
Intervention Specialist and Family Engagement Coordinator

What's the cost?



1 Person

(8) 60-min interactive learning sessions

(2) 60-min coaching sessions

Pre and post assessments

Playbook for Clear, Effective & Meaningful School Communication

Additional 90-min team working session


Team: Base Package

Team of 5

(8) 60-min interactive learning sessions

(2) 60-min coaching sessions

Pre and post assessments

Playbook for Clear, Effective & Meaningful School Communication

Additional 90-min team working session


Team: Premium Package

Team of 5

(8) 60-min interactive learning sessions

(2) 60-min coaching sessions

Pre and post assessments

Playbook for Clear, Effective & Meaningful School Communication

Additional 90-min team working session

Register for this cohort today!

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    Individual - $700Base package - $3,500Premium package - $5,000

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    Cancellations must be submitted electronically here no less than 10 days before the start of this program. No-shows do not qualify for refunds. We reserve the right to cancel this program due to low enrollment or other unforeseen circumstances. In the event of this program being canceled, any money paid would be immediately refunded via check to the school district.

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