I envision every school principal with smartphone in hand, anxious to send out the next tweet. And here's why:
Now, more than ever before, schools have their own media channel -- the ability to say what they want and show the world how amazing they are.
It's saddening to read mainstream media's portrayal of the school system full of burnt-out teachers, military principals, and factory-like education. This, just simply, is not true. That's like saying all ships that cross the Atlantic sink like the Titanic, because you never read about ships that make it successfully.
This is changing, however. Mainsteam media is dwindling and more and more users are reading and watching what they choose. This includes a selection of blogs, Youtube channels, and social-media handles (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Vine and Pinterest).
It's time now for school districts to take the power and become their own media channel using all the free media channels out there to promote the positive-learning center school leaders know their school to be.
This isn't for everyone. Trust me, any school leader that's afraid to make waves and try something new will not like this idea. Not at all. But any school leader that cares for their students and recognizes that the world students are growing up in is vastly different from the one she grew up in, recognizes that the education system needs a facelift and she has the power to make it happen. Now, she has the ability to tell the world how great her school is.
Great schools (online, blended, and traditional) act as nurturing centers that foster creative development and high-quality art, math, and science skills; and school is the medium to advance human development and better society. The internet took our society into hyper speed and successful schools will quickly follow.
In case you're not convinced:
3 Reasons Why Principals Need to Tweet
1. Students Need Social-Media Role Models.
Are you sitting down? If not, quickly do so before you click and read what students' thoughts are during school: #thoughtsduringschool
Parents, I'm sorry you had to see that. Yes, students really are saying these things and apparently don't care or don't' realize people like me (and you) are reading them. Pardon the lack of amygdala development, but students need a role model that shows them how social media is an incredibly powerful tool. It's a media channel -- for free. It's the ability to get your message out there. It's the ability to be the change you want to see in the world, regardless of how much bank you have (yes, I said that). (Click to tweet)
2. What About the Budget? No Cost Necessary
Forget the budget. Launching a Twitter and Pinterest handle, along with a Facebook page, costs zilch -- nada -- nothing. Just the amount of time it takes one to figure out how to do this which is a whole lot less time than it takes to master Warcraft.
3. What can you do with a Tweet, Pin, and Like?
Here's the formula:
Step 1: Assign a school leader to write a blog post each week that tells the story of something amazing happening in the school (a.k.a. the good news). This could be a student who ran 95 yards for the touchdown or the school club that put together its first community walk to raise awareness for Lyme disease.
Step 2: Create a Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook page. Include a link to the school's main blog to direct readers to it. Below are the benefits of each social media platform.
Twitter: Craft 3-5 daily tweets that stay on the positive. You can get really serious and include interesting facts to feed the students' minds (i.e. Einstein quotes or "on this day...") Or, you can crack a joke here and there and be human. Or, you can ask students and parents to wear a white ribbon to honor "insert event here".
Pinterest: Pictures, baby! Hand this over to an exemplary student and upload pictures of student photos, paintings, or the school's garden. Free publicity to get your students' amazing work out there. Talk about promotional opportunities.
Facebook: Use this like a blog if you don't run a blog on the school's server (though you should), but disable comments. You don't need any trolls pretending you're not awesome. Post pictures of the school leaders and teachers smiling. Students smiling. Or, you can enable (though monitor) comments and engage the school and community in a discussion. Post questions like Socrates would ask and encourage comments. Offer small prizes for incentive. If your community is smart, they'll start calling you for promotional offers, giving you gift cards from Starbucks to give to the students with the best responses.
Step 3: Keep it up. It takes time to develop the benefits from having an online presence. However, through time, the community and your students will start seeing how to use social media wisely and will have more reason to believe in the school system (Click to tweet). Parents may even start responding to the Facebook posts and become more involved with their children's education.
So, go ahead and get started. Enjoy the likes, the retweets, and the re-pins. You have nothing to lose besides progress.
What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below.
Follow Mark W. Guay on Twitter: www.twitter.com/markwguay