Friday, August 29, 2014

Social Media & Schools: Norms

This post takes me back to the summer of 2010 as a group of instructional coaches and administrators from the yet to be opened Timberview Middle School sat in an Alan November session at the Texas ASCD Technology Conference.  Honestly, the topic I cannot recall, but in our think tank there towards the back of the ballroom we decided that a Facebook fan page would be a brilliant idea as a platform to connect with our people.  Of course we all had our own experiences with social media.  Most of us were on the Facebook so we had an awareness of the various behaviors that occurred, so we didn't step into this social media adventure completely naive.  Our bold and brilliant leader,Carrie Jackson, sat down and developed some norms for interaction and use so that page became the positive platform we wanted it to become!

Here are the quick points on the why's and benefits.


  1. Helps establish a common purpose - we want social media to be a place for our community to connect and share school together in a positive way.  We wanted to share the Timberview (and now the Eagle Ridge) story as it happened.  These should be clearly stated in a norms document.
  2. Sets an expectation - everyone wants to know their expectations.  Most are happy to meet them, but when the few don't, it gives us a place to start a conversation.
  3. Establishes routine - this really came into play when Carrie started our weekly school chat #TMSHawkChat.  We began each session with a reminder of the norms.  We had them posted everywhere, digitally, we could think of.  While some enjoy routine more than others, in the case of social media use, it is vital that expectations become routine!

  1. Proactive - norms get you on the front end of issues that may arise!
  2. Positive - They should not be a "DO NOT" list.  You'll notice that when there is a do not included there is the why as well as a plan of action.
  3. Empowering - just like classroom expectations, norms empower people to do the right thing.  Does it mean that everyone will?  Probably not, but it provides for those times when they come.

I can count on one hand how many times I have had to remove a comment from a school page and have made sure that there was a personal interaction prior to removing the comment.  99.9% of the our community is positively participating in the opportunity that social media is to connect and share.  Let's be honest.  Digital citizenship is not just a kid issue.  Adults need just as much learning as kids do, look at your Facebook feed...  This year we had a Communication University where we specifically covered social media norms and opportunities with our families and have gotten great feedback  from it.

If you are jumping into or are in the social media scene with a school account, I've included a link to our document.  Please feel free to download it and modify it for your use.  Our document is "borrowed" and tweaked as well.  We educators are great at sharing!

Happy posting!


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