As educators we talk about relationships... Relationships, relationships, relationships.
Get to know them, tell them about yourself, share, positive phone calls, discuss, trust, open up, favorites, two things you didn't know, my first dog's name was.... and on and on. These are all important and should be done.
There is one other very important time, and space where relationships should be started and impression/perceptions created.
It is a simple word, one we all know.... REGISTRATION
This is when a guardian, parent, or multiple guardians and parents come to the school to fill out paper work to make sure their children can attend. This is something that has to be done face to face. Our process is pretty simple, but often parents are nervous anyways.
I never understood the importance of this until a year or two ago. I now greet, welcome, shake hands, share excitement, answer questions, go on tours, share our videos on youtube, and make sure they understand that the principal of the school wants their children to be successful and is available. I don't make it a sales pitch, as each conversation is a little different. I just want them to get a feel for me, that is it. If they leave with a good first impression of me, they will have a good first impression of the school.
Now of course this is not a perfect system, I go on vacations, I am at meetings, registrations come in all the time, but I would encourage any other school leader to make sure they are notified when new registrations come in and are standing in the office whenever possible. It is the best way to set a great first impression with new students and parents to hopefully set them up to be successful. It is so easy, it is worth the 5-10 minutes it takes.