When I first started using social media back in 2008 for my classroom, I didn’t really know what I was stepping off into. As a person that attended college during the inception of Facebook, I have had the opportunity to watch social media grow over the years and see all the tools that have been created that help people communicate more and more. I realized pretty early on that the use of blogs and Twitter accounts would be a great way to connect with other educators across the world. However, I have seen that it is a very powerful tool for communicating with parents and students within your own our community. Especially now in my role as an administrator I see that social media accounts are bridging the gap between home and school.
Over the past year, our school has really looked closely at how parents want to be communicated with. What I’ve noticed is that the typical flyer or newsletter format is becoming less desired among parents. From surveys and informal conversations, I’ve noticed that parents are looking for more of a “buffet style” form of communication. What we have found is that parents have varying preferences for receiving information in the modern age that challenge some of our traditional methods. Many of our parents use some type of combination of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and our website…which even our website is starting to get left behind compared to our other forms of communication.
One of the first things I did when I moved to the junior high level as an administrator was I wanted to make social media a priority. A little of a year ago, both our Twitter and Instagram accounts had less than 100 followers apiece. Now our numbers have sky rocketed since I started at my current school last year. Often times, educators have a perception that only teenagers use social media on a daily basis, but so many of our parents connect to the world around them in this way too. These two platforms have become a standard tool of communication home and have had great success disseminating information in this way.
Furthermore, this has become an excellent tool for use when it comes to public relations and building our community. The toughest thing about learning how to leverage social media to your advantage is finding what drives your followers. For instance, the post above was one of our most visited images on Instagram and Twitter as well. Not only did this image collect many “likes”, but it also pulled people in and got them to follow. Each time I post on our social media about athletics, which is a large sense of pride in our school (and many others), I usually gain anywhere from 5-10 new followers. That’s pretty powerful and make a huge impact in a number of ways in your school community.