In today’s environment, social media is one of the most powerful tools an administrator can utilize to keep in contact with the community. This post comes to us from VASSP Board Member Jeffrey Carroll, Principal of Warhill High School in the Williamsburg-James City Division.
Contributed by Jeffrey Carroll, Ph.D. & Shelly Cihak, Ed.D.
As school administrators, we often see the “dark side” of social media through situations that arise on the disciplinary side of our jobs. However, we must not let the negative stereotype of social media prevent us from harnessing the positive aspects of this powerful mode of communication. When we arrived at our current school, we viewed social media as a tool for helping us communicate with our school community – especially as a way to meet our students on their own virtual playground. As a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) school, our students are encouraged to engage in digital learning, something that we as administrators are embracing as well. Here is a taste of the strategies that have worked in our digital community:
- Twitter – Through the use of this platform, we have effectively increased our interactions with students. Each administrator has established a Twitter profile, noted on all of our business contact/communication tools. We actively tweet resources for faculty, important updates for students and families, as well as respond to questions. For example, a student who forgot the arrival time for graduation was able to tweet at us and receive the correct information to ensure an on-time arrival. We use hashtags to brand our school (#powerinthepride), foster a digital PLC amongst the faculty (#whspd16), as well as to further a host of school/classroom initiatives. Our faculty has even used Twitter to provide students a real-world audience for student work samples.
- YouTube – More than just a place to watch funny videos, YouTube provides an awesome digital classroom. For example, physics experiments are videotaped, transitioned to slow-motion and then posted to YouTube…allowing students the opportunity to reflect on both process and product. Fine arts productions are posted to allow students to reflect on their own performance, as well as provide opportunities for distant friends and family to participate as virtual audience members.
- Student Communications Team – In order to ensure that our digital communication efforts are effective, we went to the masters – the students. Currently in its second year, our Student Communications Team works to disseminate information and manage the school’s digital image. This three-person team is selected through an application process and trained by our school division’s PR team. Paid a small stipend, this team manages our school’s website, school Twitter and Facebook accounts, established a school YouTube channel and is working to extend the presence to Instagram and other relevant platforms. While a faculty member has oversight of each of the platforms to ensure appropriate and relevant communication, our students are truly transforming our school communications.
Through modeling and guiding our students, we help foster digital responsibility in our school community and hope that these valuable lessons will stick with our students as they move into their post-secondary options and help broaden the reach of our school community.