Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Social Media & Schools: The Engagement Post

I will certainly not say that the best or most important post type has been saved for last, but the final post type does take the most guts, for sure.  The engagement post is where a measure of control of the social media and storytelling reins is released to the folks that truly have the power to make it move and make it something amazing that we could never make it on our own.

The engagement post is just that, a post aiming to elicit a response from the community and open up the opportunity for conversation and a perspective outside of the school perspective.  It is a true test of the norms and digital citizenship of the community.  It is imperative that norms have been developed and shared prior to attempting the engagement post.

Friday, September 26, 2014

One Word

As part of our beginning of the year kick off for school this year my principal challenged us to select and display one word that would describe our goal for the year, something that described us, or would tell a little bit about the journey that we were on at this point in time.  I took a little time to peruse Jon Gordon's book One Word to get a better feel for what exactly was a good thought process in selecting a word that carried this much weight and importance.  All the while, I was pretty sure I new what my word was:

I have blogged about thoughts from the book Difference numerous times already.  The book as made a pretty significant impact on the kind of instructional and organizational leader that I desire to be.  I've pulled out a couple key things that really struck me from  the book.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Social Media & Schools: The Learning Post

If we truly want to be learning communities, learning cannot be exclusively for those at school.  Students, of course, are expected to learn. We measure that and give feedback often!  School faculty are expected to be continuous learners.  Campuses and districts provide learning opportunities and we encourage the learning to take place in a personal manner as well, just as we do with students.  Most professions have this same expectation, but as "experts" in our field we really have an obligation to be feeding our communities with opportunities to grow!  The learning post allows the opportunity for the learning to take place outside our buildings and classrooms by people other than students, bringing a focus to growing a community of learners.

Think, for a moment, about the question that is often asked in parent conferences and RtI, 504 and ARD meetings?  For me, I often hear: "What can I be doing to best support my student at home?"  This is a perfect place to start.  The learning post gives our parents he opportunity to have access to better support their students.  At Eagle Ridge we began this area with posts regarding how parents can help and support at home with math & literacy parent/teacher connection.  Here are a couple sample posts:
Our campus Paper.li is a great learning resources as well.  We have tried to feed that resource with not only school related resources, but true community resources.  Below is one of my favorites as it includes district posts and information as well links provided by our local state representative.
Other opportunities for learning posts can be learning about campus initiatives and understanding how schools work!

The one thing that did concern us regarding the learning post was the perception of preaching.  We never wanted our community to feel as if we were preaching at them on a specific topic or that we were calling them out.  This school year we got ourselves over that and explicitly pitched our purpose in share articles, blog posts, etc. which was to feed the community and share things that made us think.  We specifically emphasized that many of the things we shared would be related to empowering parents to best help their kiddos and understand what school was all about!  With those things in mind, it is important to not post things filled with lingo that will not be easily accessible to our families we are trying to reach.

The act of exposing ourselves as educators and our learners comes pretty naturally just due to the nature of what we do.  Reaching our families takes something a little more intentional.  The learning post, like the C&I post, is, most likely, a departure from an area of comfort with social media where our campus is concerned.  But, if we wish to be a community of learners and continue our journey in that respect, it is a great step forward!

Happy posting


Friday, September 19, 2014

I'm Sorry

I believe that there are divine signs and leading.  As  I was working on a separate post, a notification from Seth Godin's blog popped up.  Go ahead and click on it and read it.  It will take you 1 minute...I'll wait.

I had this idea sitting in my post page waiting for the right time.  That notification and quick read told me it was time to complete this thought.  Now, add to that my image search, I come across the image to the right and  this post.  Click on that and read.  It's another 2-3 minute read...I'll wait.

I won't hide from it, this post, like others, comes from a recent experience from which I'm still learning and reflecting.  In our work and in life in general, there are times when "I'm sorry" is hard and there are times when "I'm sorry" is a little less hard.  Mr. Patterson covers the nature of apologies very well in his post and Mr. Godin has got the great thoughts on the anatomy of an apology.  I want to focus on the some vocabulary.

I've heard my fair share of apologies, whether on the giving end, receiving end or otherwise, and my greatest observation is the words that come across directly after.

  • Too many times, and it makes me sad, I hear "I'm sorry you...".  If I can be so bold to say, this is not an apology at all and a manipulation of the situation.  Yes, "I'm sorry" is in there, but just in the structure of the language, the focus is no longer on you and what you are sorry for, but the focus is now on the action of another.  This is a defense mechanism and a clear indication that you're not ready to make the apology, because there is no ownership in the language.
  • In work with students in discipline situation on the restorative end is the language I teach is "I'm sorry for...".  Then there comes those lovely times when I (& we as adults) get to decide to heed my own teaching.  "I'm sorry for..." indicates acknowledgement of the situation and the desire to mend relationship.
I may have a stubborn streak in me, so apologies never come easy (do they for anyone?).  But if we prioritize relationship, as we should, as a key factor in student success, we must become better at apologies.  The word comfortable was the first word that came to mind, but I'm not sure that apologies are anything we may ever get more comfortable with, but we sure can get better at them.  The good of our school community requires and deserves relationships that can be mended for the good of our students!



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Social Media & Schools: The C&I Post

If you have kids, you have tackled the age old conversation:

        You: "How was school today?" 
        Child: "Fine."
        You: "What did you do?"
        Child: "Oh, nothing."
        And scene...

This conversation happens often in your families' homes and while for a vast majority the conversation rarely ends there and many vary their questioning strategies (we posted a great article on this a couple days ago) to tease out what REALLY happened that day at school.  Left unchecked, though, this conversation can begin to erode our families' view of  our

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mobilize Your Silent Majority

When most of us think about the squeaky wheel, it is not usually a super positive thing.  While not necessarily and explicitly negative, the squeaky wheel is a means to an end for some person or group.  Car maintenance is an appropriate metaphor for how school often goes.  When things are good/great, it is quiet and you roll with it!  When things break you start to get those noises, warning lights and error messages on that nifty screen that front and center.  That's how the machine works, right?

What if our machine worked differently?   What if our notification console gave us green lights and thumbs up instead of those alarming and anxiety creating red and orange lights (those things give the amazing color of red a bad name...).  Below is a great nugget from the Blunt Educator:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Social Media & Schools: The Celebration Post

There are few things that people, in general, enjoy more than a good celebration!  Celebrations evoke so many positive feelings & emotions and have the effect of bringing people together!  We have so many things to celebrate and be excited about in schools!  Whether it be learning, social, or milestone, celebrations are a huge part of the story we tell and we should be proactive to ensure that our families have the opportunity to take part in these because these are the events and happenings that can have the greatest effect on our family engagement and brand building experience!

Folks like myself, Tony Sinanis & Joe Sanfelippo, as well as my own district's superintendent, speak regularly about taking control of the narrative being told in regards to school.  The celebration post on your campus and/or classroom social media pages should be an important part of what is being shared!  These celebration posts speak directly to all of the wonderful and positive things that happen at school daily and should highlight individuals, groups, clubs, events, learning, service to name a few!  All that said, the celebration post was a very natural progression after beginning with the information posts!  Here are some great places to find celebrations on your campus.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Social Media & Schools: The Information Post

The next few posts regarding social media will dig into five (5) post types I have identified after meticulously sifting through a year's worth of posts (yup, that's how I spend my time :))!  Time consuming yes, but I believe there is value in knowing how we use the tool of social media so that we can use it more efficiently to build the level of engagement with families and brand that we desire!

The first post type that we'll tackle is probably the one that most got into the social media scene to use and probably why you chose to start a social media page for your campus or classroom.  The information post is pretty self explanatory.  Information posts can be:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I Don't Want to be a Special Guest

I don't want to be a special guest.  Not at school or in a classroom, at least.

This past Thursday, I was out and about visiting classrooms, walking through, checking things out.  Nothing super official yet, but really trying to work on being present where the learning happens.  I ended up hanging out a little longer in a 4th grade classroom where an interactive read aloud was taking place (a shared book will always catch my attention).  As the teacher read, then made her calculated stops to ask questions, driving the objective of point of view, she asked the question, "what do you think the point of view of our special guest will be?"  A number of the students who had noticed me come in turned to look at me.

Friday, September 5, 2014

More to the Story

I am knee deep into the idea of branding.  I think I would really enjoy a 21st century marketing course!  Social media has changed the game in how marketing takes place and organizations are able to interact with people and vice versa.  It has also, in a dramatic fashion, leveled the playing field and allowed a new level of competition for the "little guy" if the right tools are used correctly and you are passionate about your product and/or service!  Branding is also a current hot topic for schools and reading about branding in business has become a favorite pass time (and blog topic) as I think about the school I want to lead.  I read this article The Power of Branding a couple days ago and enjoyed it finding myself nodding along with everything it had to say.  I also found that I had a number of points and elements included in my upcoming presentation.  I won't lie, it's nice to see others seeing and coming to similar conclusions!  The article really focused on the power of telling and getting the narrative of schools out their in all of the various ways that we communicate.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Social Media & Schools: The Platforms

When jumping into the social media scene it the choices and options can be overwhelming.  Starting in, I would recommend selecting one that you feel is going to make the greatest impact with families.  All provide options for passing information as well as the ability to connect and interact with your community.  Here are some quick points on the platforms that we use at Eagle Ridge.

  • Primary social media platform and where we started - getting everybody who is has admin rights to our pages on Hootsuite hasn't risen to the top of the priority list, so Facebook even for posting is the "go to" location to post.
  • Most visited and posted - We are currently sitting at 620+ likes which is a little more than 75% of our student population
  • Great combination of visual & communication purposes - The limit on post size is pretty high and you can easily include a visual with links so including extra details.  Other platforms provide the options to post to Facebook so integration is pretty easy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lead Like a Pirate!

If teachers or administrators had a choice, would they follow you? That question popped into my mind as I prepared for a meeting this past week.  The wonderful Dave Burgess came to mind in connection and I couldn't help but think about that challenge question he included in Teach Like a Pirate: If students had the choice, would they come to your class?  Shouldn't the same question apply to our leadership?   As I thought more and more about that question, I was, first and foremost, encouraged by my own response (not answering in  arrogance, but answering in self reflection) and then, second, it reestablished that point that true leadership is not a position or a job held.  Here is a visual a I had retweeted awhile back that will help frame my ideas.